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School of Medicine Project Listing

2024 Research Projects

You can select a course button below to filter the projects that are available to that course (i.e. clicking on the 'Hons' button will display only Honours projects). You can also use the 'Search' box to narrow the projects. The search term does not need to be exact (i.e. the search term 'med' would return 'medicine', 'paramedic' etc). You can also use the 'Sort' buttons located in the top row of the table to sort certain columns in either alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order.

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Project ID Primary Supervisor Firstname Primary Supervisor Surname Project Title Research Area Location Project Type Project Background Research Question Additional Information
2101 Kathryn Aston-Mourney In utero metformin treatment to reduce the risk of adult diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin. However, the use of metformin during pregnancy, while becoming increasingly common, is still under debate. The main concern is that metformin can cross the placenta and the effects of this drug on the developing fetus are largely unknown. We have shown that metformin actually increases beta-cell number in developing zebrafish suggesting that it could have beneficial effects to reduce the later development of type 2 diabetes. This project aims to use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on offspring beta-cell number, mass and function and protection from diabetes development in adulthood. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2101

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kathryn

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Leni Rivera, Dr Bryony McNeil

Project Title: In utero metformin treatment to reduce the risk of adult diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin. However, the use of metformin during pregnancy, while becoming increasingly common, is still under debate. The main concern is that metformin can cross the placenta and the effects of this drug on the developing fetus are largely unknown.

Research Question: We have shown that metformin actually increases beta-cell number in developing zebrafish suggesting that it could have beneficial effects to reduce the later development of type 2 diabetes. This project aims to use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on offspring beta-cell number, mass and function and protection from diabetes development in adulthood.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Pancreatic histology -Microscopic imaging -Quantitative image analysis -Statistical analysis
The student will also be involved with our large research group and have the opportunity to work with other students.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Kathryn
2102 Kathryn Aston-Mourney A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: Improving Islet Transplantation Success Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. It is characterised by autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells) resulting in the need for insulin injections. New hope for a cure has been given with the development of islet transplantation techniques however currently these require several donors in order to provide enough islets and the long term success rates are poor with only 10% of transplants still functioning after 5 years. This poor success is due in part to the high amount of stress the islets undergo following the transplant and prior to becoming engrafted. Therefore the development of techniques to protect the islets from these stressors and improve engraftment would greatly increase not only transplant success but also long-term outcomes. Our lab is developing novel compounds that can protect islets from diabetic conditions. This project will determine whether these can successfully protect islets from different transplantation stressors. Ultimately this project could lead to greatly improving the success of this cure. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2102

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kathryn

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Richard Williams

Project Title: A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: Improving Islet Transplantation Success

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. It is characterised by autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells) resulting in the need for insulin injections. New hope for a cure has been given with the development of islet transplantation techniques however currently these require several donors in order to provide enough islets and the long term success rates are poor with only 10% of transplants still functioning after 5 years. This poor success is due in part to the high amount of stress the islets undergo following the transplant and prior to becoming engrafted. Therefore the development of techniques to protect the islets from these stressors and improve engraftment would greatly increase not only transplant success but also long-term outcomes.

Research Question: Our lab is developing novel compounds that can protect islets from diabetic conditions. This project will determine whether these can successfully protect islets from different transplantation stressors. Ultimately this project could lead to greatly improving the success of this cure.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Cell culture -Hydrogel synthesis -Ex vivo culture of pancreatic islets -Analysis of insulin secretion -Analysis of cell death -ELISA -Immunohistochemistry
The student will also be part of our large research group and have the opportunity to learn from other students and their research projects.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Kathryn

Video Presentation
2103 Kathryn Aston-Mourney Discovery of New Targets for the Treatment of Diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we obtain a better understanding of how beta-cell failure occurs and how it could be targeted by new treatments. This project will investigate new pharmaceutical interventions for the protection of beta-cells under diabetic conditions. Specifically, the mechanisms will be investigated to determine the clinical capability for use in people with type 2 diabetes. Ultimately this could delay or prevent the development and progression of beta-cell failure in Type 2 Diabetes. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2103

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kathryn

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Sean McGee

Project Title: Discovery of New Targets for the Treatment of Diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we obtain a better understanding of how beta-cell failure occurs and how it could be targeted by new treatments.

Research Question: This project will investigate new pharmaceutical interventions for the protection of beta-cells under diabetic conditions. Specifically, the mechanisms will be investigated to determine the clinical capability for use in people with type 2 diabetes. Ultimately this could delay or prevent the development and progression of beta-cell failure in Type 2 Diabetes.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Cell Culture -Ex vivo culture of pancreatic islets -Analysis of insulin secretion -Analysis of cell death -ELISA -Metabolic profiling -Mitochondrial flux analysis
The student will also be involved in our large research group and have the opportunity to work with other students.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Kathryn

Video Presentation
2104 Kathryn Aston-Mourney A targeted drug delivery approach for diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we develop therapies targeted to prevent beta-cell failure. However, one of the key limitations in treating beta-cells clinically is that the drugs only reach the beta-cells at low concentrations. Aptamers are small nucleic acid molecules that can specifically bind targets and carry drugs. This could be an excellent method to target beta-cell drug delivery at high concentrations. This project will investigate candidate aptamers for their ability to specifically recognize beta-cells and thus be used as specific delivery vehicles. Ultimately this could provide a mechanism for beta-cell delivery aiding in the development of beta-cell protective therapies as well as other applications such as using for medical imaging of beta-cells for research or optimizing patient treatment. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2104

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kathryn

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Sarah Shigdar

Project Title: A targeted drug delivery approach for diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we develop therapies targeted to prevent beta-cell failure. However, one of the key limitations in treating beta-cells clinically is that the drugs only reach the beta-cells at low concentrations. Aptamers are small nucleic acid molecules that can specifically bind targets and carry drugs. This could be an excellent method to target beta-cell drug delivery at high concentrations.

Research Question: This project will investigate candidate aptamers for their ability to specifically recognize beta-cells and thus be used as specific delivery vehicles. Ultimately this could provide a mechanism for beta-cell delivery aiding in the development of beta-cell protective therapies as well as other applications such as using for medical imaging of beta-cells for research or optimizing patient treatment.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Cell culture -Ex vivo culture of pancreatic islets -Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) -Analysis of insulin secretion -Analysis of cell death -ELISA -Cellular imaging
The student will also be part of our large research group and have the opportunity to learn from other students and their research projects.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Kathryn

Video Presentation
2105 Kara Holloway-Kew Characteristics of hospital admissions for fractures during COVID-19 lockdowns Public Health HERB B Level 3 - Barwon Health Hons Fractures of the hip almost always require hospital admission and have long lengths of stay, but less is known about the characteristics of hospitalisation admission for other fracture types that are generally considered "less severe". Previous data have shown that other lower limb fractures, such as those of the lower leg and ankle, had high rates of surgery and hospitalisation. COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have substantially impacted the services provided by hospitals during the past few years. The characteristics of fracture treatment such as hospital admission and surgery may have been affected during this time. This is important because individuals with a fracture are more likely to have another fracture, which can further affect their ability to carry out daily tasks and reduce their quality of life. Fracture treatment and management plays a critical role in recovery following the injury. Since hospital services were highly impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, it is possible that fracture treatment and management have changed over the past few years. This project will investigate how the characteristics of hospital admission as a result of fracture have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown periods. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2105

Name: Dr Kara Holloway-Kew

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kara

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Kara Anderson

Project Title: Characteristics of hospital admissions for fractures during COVID-19 lockdowns

Research Area: Public Health

Location: HERB B Level 3

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Fractures of the hip almost always require hospital admission and have long lengths of stay, but less is known about the characteristics of hospitalisation admission for other fracture types that are generally considered "less severe". Previous data have shown that other lower limb fractures, such as those of the lower leg and ankle, had high rates of surgery and hospitalisation. COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have substantially impacted the services provided by hospitals during the past few years. The characteristics of fracture treatment such as hospital admission and surgery may have been affected during this time. This is important because individuals with a fracture are more likely to have another fracture, which can further affect their ability to carry out daily tasks and reduce their quality of life. Fracture treatment and management plays a critical role in recovery following the injury.

Research Question: Since hospital services were highly impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, it is possible that fracture treatment and management have changed over the past few years. This project will investigate how the characteristics of hospital admission as a result of fracture have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdown periods.

Methods/Analysis: This project will be conducted in the Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing in IMPACT, as part of the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. The candidate will be involved in collecting data for hospitalisations related to fracture injuries from medical records using data mining, database extraction and epidemiological techniques. The project will also involve data analyses including descriptive statistical techniques such as Chi-square tests.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Kara
2106 Kara Holloway-Kew Comorbid osteoporosis in hospital separation coding hospitalisations for fragility fracture Public Health HERB B Level 3 - Barwon Health Hons Osteoporosis is characterised as a reduction in the amount and quality of bone. It is considered a silent condition, since a person may not realise they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture due to bone fragility. These fragility fractures are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, as well as high healthcare costs. Despite osteoporosis being a key risk factor for fragility fracture, it is often not recorded as a diagnosis during admission or discharge from hospital. These omissions distort estimates of the osteoporosis-related burden to acute health care. Further, effective treatment and management of bone fragility and fractures requires information about the presence of osteoporosis, as well as previous fractures. Data are needed for understanding of the under-reporting of osteoporosis hospital admissions relating to osteoporotic/fragility fractures. This project will aim to determine under-reporting of co-morbid osteoporosis and/or previous fracture in separation/discharge hospital medical records for patients hospitalised because they have sustained a fragility fracture. It is hypothesised that osteoporosis and previous fragility fracture will under-reported in the hospital separation coding. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2106

Name: Dr Kara Holloway-Kew

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kara

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Julie Pasco

Project Title: Comorbid osteoporosis in hospital separation coding hospitalisations for fragility fracture

Research Area: Public Health

Location: HERB B Level 3

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Osteoporosis is characterised as a reduction in the amount and quality of bone. It is considered a silent condition, since a person may not realise they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture due to bone fragility. These fragility fractures are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, as well as high healthcare costs. Despite osteoporosis being a key risk factor for fragility fracture, it is often not recorded as a diagnosis during admission or discharge from hospital. These omissions distort estimates of the osteoporosis-related burden to acute health care. Further, effective treatment and management of bone fragility and fractures requires information about the presence of osteoporosis, as well as previous fractures.

Research Question: Data are needed for understanding of the under-reporting of osteoporosis hospital admissions relating to osteoporotic/fragility fractures. This project will aim to determine under-reporting of co-morbid osteoporosis and/or previous fracture in separation/discharge hospital medical records for patients hospitalised because they have sustained a fragility fracture. It is hypothesised that osteoporosis and previous fragility fracture will under-reported in the hospital separation coding.

Methods/Analysis: The project will be conducted within the Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing in IMPACT. The project will involve identifying patients admitted with fragility fracture, carefully reviewing their medical records and hospital separations data, while maintaining research integrity and patient confidentiality. The candidate will utilise statistical techniques to describe the prevalence of reporting for osteoporosis and previous fracture.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Kara
2107 Kara Anderson Rates of fracture before and during COVID-19 lockdowns Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong Hons Fractures - such as those of the wrist, hip or shoulder '- are common injuries and have high costs for the healthcare system and the individual. It is known that some types of fractures are more common in outdoor settings where the opportunity for accidental injury is higher, whereas others are more common in a home setting. During COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 in Victoria, there were changes in behaviour, particularly related to the time people spent at home vs outdoors, and this may have impacted the rates of different types of fractures. Since different types of fractures occur more commonly in specific settings, COVID-19 lockdowns may have affected fracture rates and fracture types and sites. This project will aim to investigate how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted fracture epidemiology in the Geelong region. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2107

Name: Dr Kara Anderson

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kara

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Kara Holloway-Kew

Project Title: Rates of fracture before and during COVID-19 lockdowns

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Fractures - such as those of the wrist, hip or shoulder, are common injuries and have high costs for the healthcare system and the individual. It is known that some types of fractures are more common in outdoor settings where the opportunity for accidental injury is higher, whereas others are more common in a home setting. During COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 in Victoria, there were changes in behaviour, particularly related to the time people spent at home vs outdoors, and this may have impacted the rates of different types of fractures.

Research Question: Since different types of fractures occur more commonly in specific settings, COVID-19 lockdowns may have affected fracture rates and fracture types and sites. This project will aim to investigate how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted fracture epidemiology in the Geelong region.

Methods/Analysis: This project will be conducted in the Epi-Centre for Healthy Ageing, IMPACT, as part of the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. The candidate working on this project will utilise epidemiological techniques including data extraction, management and analysis. The tasks will involve carefully reviewing medical records and radiology reports while maintaining research integrity and confidentiality. The candidate will undertake statistical techniques such as rate calculations to analyse collected data.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Kara
2108 Tania de Koning-Ward Identifying how extracellular vesicles are generated from red blood cells infected with Plasmodium Infection Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, resulting in ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. To promote their growth, and evade the host immune response, to manipulate their host environment and communicate with each other, intracellular Plasmodium parasites release extracellular vesicles (EVs) from the RBC. Elevated EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. However, it is an enigma how EVs are generated and transported within Plasmodium infected RBC to facilitate secretion of parasite antigens as these parasites lack most of the endomembrane trafficking machinery found in higher eukaryotes. In this project, the contribution of several components of the Plasmodium falciparum endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite transmission and parasite survival Which components of the endosomal trafficking machinery contribute to EV formation? Aim 1: Epitope tag and knockout out the expression of Plasmodium falciparum genes encoding components of the endosomal trafficking machinery using reverse genetics. Aim 2: Using these engineered parasites to assess localisation and interacting partners of the component in the infected RBC and the effect on EV production and parasite survival. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2108

Name: Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Tania

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Natalie Counihan

Project Title: Identifying how extracellular vesicles are generated from red blood cells infected with Plasmodium

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, resulting in ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. To promote their growth, and evade the host immune response, to manipulate their host environment and communicate with each other, intracellular Plasmodium parasites release extracellular vesicles (EVs) from the RBC. Elevated EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. However, it is an enigma how EVs are generated and transported within Plasmodium infected RBC to facilitate secretion of parasite antigens as these parasites lack most of the endomembrane trafficking machinery found in higher eukaryotes. In this project, the contribution of several components of the Plasmodium falciparum endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite transmission and parasite survival

Research Question: Which components of the endosomal trafficking machinery contribute to EV formation? Aim 1: Epitope tag and knockout out the expression of Plasmodium falciparum genes encoding components of the endosomal trafficking machinery using reverse genetics. Aim 2: Using these engineered parasites to assess localisation and interacting partners of the component in the infected RBC and the effect on EV production and parasite survival.

Methods/Analysis: This project will provide students with a broad skills base that covers molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. Genetic engineering of malaria parasites using CRISPR/Cas9 DNA - involves generation of molecular constructs (PCR, cloning, sequencing), parasite transfection, in vitro culturing of malaria parasites and analysis of transfectants (PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence analysis). Biochemical techniques will be used to study EVs and interacting partners of these proteins.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Tania

Video Presentation
2109 Tania de Koning-Ward Identifying proteins required for extracellular vesicle formation and severe malaria disease Infection Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites and remains a global health disease. During infection, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released from Plasmodium-infected RBC. These EVs promote parasite growth, pathogenesis and parasite transmission. Moreover, an elevation of EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. The biogenesis of EVs is still a mystery, although components of the vesicular-mediated trafficking and endosomal sorting are likely to be involved. In this project, the contribution of several components of the rodent malaria Plasmodium endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite virulence and parasite survival. Which Plasmodium trafficking components are required to form EVs and give rise to severe malaria disease. This will be investigated in the following Aims. Aim 1: Knockout out Plasmodium berghei genes encoding components of the endosomal and vesicular trafficking machinery. Aim 2: Examine the affect of gene knockout of EV generation and malaria pathogenesis using rodent models of infection. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2109

Name: Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Tania

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Natalie Couniha

Project Title: Identifying proteins required for extracellular vesicle formation and severe malaria disease

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites and remains a global health disease. During infection, extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released from Plasmodium-infected RBC. These EVs promote parasite growth, pathogenesis and parasite transmission. Moreover, an elevation of EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. The biogenesis of EVs is still a mystery, although components of the vesicular-mediated trafficking and endosomal sorting are likely to be involved. In this project, the contribution of several components of the rodent malaria Plasmodium endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite virulence and parasite survival.

Research Question: Which Plasmodium trafficking components are required to form EVs and give rise to severe malaria disease. This will be investigated in the following Aims. Aim 1: Knockout out Plasmodium berghei genes encoding components of the endosomal and vesicular trafficking machinery. Aim 2: Examine the affect of gene knockout of EV generation and malaria pathogenesis using rodent models of infection.

Methods/Analysis: This project will provide students with a broad skills base that covers molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. Genetic engineering of malaria parasites using CRISPR/Cas9 DNA - involves generation of molecular constructs (PCR, cloning, sequencing), parasite transfection and analysis of transfectants (PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence analysis). Transfectants will be analysed for pathogenicity using a rodent malaria infection model and EVs formation will be assessed.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Tania

Video Presentation
2110 Joyanta Modak Identification of novel malaria proteins involved in parasite-host cell interactions Infection Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, leading to ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. The ability of Plasmodium to invade and renovate its host RBC guarantees its success as a pathogen and relies upon proteins secreted from the rhoptry organelle to achieve this. Despite their importance to parasite survival, we still don't know the identity of all proteins secreted from the rhoptries or how they are trafficked there. Blocking trafficking or the function of these proteins could halt a malaria infection. In the lead up to this project, a new proximity ligation approach has been taken to determine the rhoptry proteome. This project aims to (1) validate that novel proteins in this proteome are indeed rhoptry proteins and (2) to functionally characterise some of these proteins to determine their potential as vaccine/drug targets. The proximity labelling approach has identified novel rhoptry proteins with critical functions. Two following aims will address this - Aim 1: To epitope tag several malaria proteins identified in the rhoptry proteome to validate that these proteins localise to the rhoptry. Aim 2: Use reverse genetics to decipher the function of the novel proteins and to determine if they are essential to parasite survival. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2110

Name: Dr Joyanta Modak

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Joyanta

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Project Title: Identification of novel malaria proteins involved in parasite-host cell interactions

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, leading to ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. The ability of Plasmodium to invade and renovate its host RBC guarantees its success as a pathogen and relies upon proteins secreted from the rhoptry organelle to achieve this. Despite their importance to parasite survival, we still don't know the identity of all proteins secreted from the rhoptries or how they are trafficked there. Blocking trafficking or the function of these proteins could halt a malaria infection. In the lead up to this project, a new proximity ligation approach has been taken to determine the rhoptry proteome. This project aims to (1) validate that novel proteins in this proteome are indeed rhoptry proteins and (2) to functionally characterise some of these proteins to determine their potential as vaccine/drug targets.

Research Question: The proximity labelling approach has identified novel rhoptry proteins with critical functions. Two following aims will address this - Aim 1: To epitope tag several malaria proteins identified in the rhoptry proteome to validate that these proteins localise to the rhoptry. Aim 2: Use reverse genetics to decipher the function of the novel proteins and to determine if they are essential to parasite survival.

Methods/Analysis: This project will provide students with a broad skills base that covers molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. Many of the techniques are cutting edge. - Construction of molecular constructs (PCR, cloning, sequencing) for CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering -Parasite cell culture and parasite transfection -Protein expression analysis -Fluorescent microscopy to examine protein localisation microscopy and other biological assays to assess parasite invasion and growth

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Joyanta

Video Presentation
2111 Aaqil Rifai Self organised building blocks for bone-tissue repair Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Damage to the bone leads to pain and loss of movement in the musculoskeletal system. Although bone can regenerate, sometimes it is damaged beyond the innate capacity. Emerging tissue engineering approaches seek to provide a clinical solution for bone defects. Despite the increasing biomimicry of tissue-engineered scaffolds, significant gaps remain in creating the complex bone substitutes required to recapitulate bone cells' natural growth, differentiation and maturation. Combining advanced biomaterials with new additive manufacturing technologies allows the development of scalable 3D tissue capable of forming cell aggregates and organoids based on natural and stimulated cues. This research project aims to fabricate and investigate novel self-assembled peptide hydrogel scaffolds to promote osteogenesis. 1) Can we design a semi-synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) that will allow stem cells to differentiate into bone tissue? 2) How can the developed ECM composition be tuned for improved cellular communication and biological activity? 3) What are the ideal growth factor release profiles for bone-tissue maturation? Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2111

Name: Dr Aaqil Rifai

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Aaqil

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Richard Williams

Project Title:Self organised building blocks for bone-tissue repair

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Damage to the bone leads to pain and loss of movement in the musculoskeletal system. Although bone can regenerate, sometimes it is damaged beyond the innate capacity. Emerging tissue engineering approaches seek to provide a clinical solution for bone defects. Despite the increasing biomimicry of tissue-engineered scaffolds, significant gaps remain in creating the complex bone substitutes required to recapitulate bone cells' natural growth, differentiation and maturation. Combining advanced biomaterials with new additive manufacturing technologies allows the development of scalable 3D tissue capable of forming cell aggregates and organoids based on natural and stimulated cues.

Research Question: This research project aims to fabricate and investigate novel self-assembled peptide hydrogel scaffolds to promote osteogenesis. 1) Can we design a semi-synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) that will allow stem cells to differentiate into bone tissue? 2) How can the developed ECM composition be tuned for improved cellular communication and biological activity? 3) What are the ideal growth factor release profiles for bone-tissue maturation?

Methods/Analysis: The student will use comprehensive material chemistry, fabrication, and characterisation techniques. After the fabrication process, the developed biomaterials will undergo in-depth investigation in vitro, with culturing primary cells, immunocytochemistry staining, metabolic assays and qPCR assessments to understand the biological response of the biomaterials. The student will learn extensive laboratory techniques in this interdisciplinary project.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Rats

URLs: Google Scholar



Contact Aaqil
2112 Eugene Athan Investigating the impact of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 on COVID-19 severity in Victoria Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong Hons COVID-19 continues to cause a high burden of disease worldwide and has resulted in undesirable health outcomes like admission to hospital and death1. The extent of these undesirable health outcomes is impacted by other complexities associated with the disease including but not limited to past infections, syndromes reported post-COVID-19 and co-morbidities. There have been variable reports on reinfection with some studies reporting protective immunity from past COVID-19 infections exhibited by less severe symptom. However, death and more severe symptoms have also been reported in re-infected cases. This population based study of reinfection in Victoria will allow for the contextualization of the impact of reinfections on disease severity and the associated risk or protective factors to inform public health messaging as the disease is being transitioned to routine public health management. What is the impact of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 on COVID-19 severity? All repeat notifications (03/2020 to 10/2022), occurring after 35 days following a previous COVID-19 diagnosis will be assessed to identify re-infections. Severity indicators will be compared between the initial and subsequent infections with SARS-CoV-2. The impact of reinfections on COVID-19 severity will be assessed using indicators like hospital admission, length of hospital stay, ICU admission, duration in ICU, death. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2112

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Michael Mulene, Dr Darcie Cooper, Dr Bridgette McNamara

Project Title: Investigating the impact of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 on COVID-19 severity in Victoria

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: COVID-19 continues to cause a high burden of disease worldwide and has resulted in undesirable health outcomes like admission to hospital and death1. The extent of these undesirable health outcomes is impacted by other complexities associated with the disease including but not limited to past infections, syndromes reported post-COVID-19 and co-morbidities. There have been variable reports on reinfection with some studies reporting protective immunity from past COVID-19 infections exhibited by less severe symptom. However, death and more severe symptoms have also been reported in re-infected cases. This population based study of reinfection in Victoria will allow for the contextualization of the impact of reinfections on disease severity and the associated risk or protective factors to inform public health messaging as the disease is being transitioned to routine public health management.

Research Question: What is the impact of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 on COVID-19 severity? All repeat notifications (03/2020 to 10/2022), occurring after 35 days following a previous COVID-19 diagnosis will be assessed to identify re-infections. Severity indicators will be compared between the initial and subsequent infections with SARS-CoV-2. The impact of reinfections on COVID-19 severity will be assessed using indicators like hospital admission, length of hospital stay, ICU admission, duration in ICU, death.

Methods/Analysis: This project will provide hands-on experience in data analysis and epidemiology as well as literature review. The candidate will be introduced to using R and Stata statistical packages. The candidate will also be supported to learn techniques in data visualisation, descriptive epidemiology and analytical epidemiology. The day to day activities will include literature review, exploring the data using statistical packages, summarising the data and analysing data to answer the research question.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Eugene
2113 Karen Dwyer Developing a roadmap for the implementation of Shared Medical Appointments in General Practice Clinical Practice Waurn Ponds Campus Hons There is a significant healthcare workforce shortage in SouthWest Victoria, which has made it difficult for many communities to access timely healthcare. Care should support positive health behaviours, which requires time and multi-disciplinary input. Our project facilitates such care and provides an alternative to traditional 1:1 consultations. Shared Medical Appointments are an evidence-based approach which delivers comprehensive care, increases access, is cost-effective, is associated with better outcomes, and high patient and clinician satisfaction. Shared Medical Appointments are ideally suited for people with long-term conditions attending to each patient's unique medical needs individually, but in a supportive group setting where all can interact, listen and learn. Drawing on the evidence base and working with Kardinia Health in Geelong, this project will develop a 'roadmap for implementation' providing a framework to easily pilot and refine for broader implementation. Can Shared Medical Appointments be integrated into clinical practice as an alternative to 1:1 consultations for chronic disease management? Aim: To co-design and develop a roadmap for implementation and delivery of Shared Medical Appointments that can be customised to the needs and expectations of communities and healthcare providers. Objective: To develop a roadmap and pilot Shared Medical Appointments as an alternative care offering. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2113

Name: Professor Karen Dwyer

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Karen

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Kate Kloot

Project Title: Developing a roadmap for the implementation of Shared Medical Appointments in General Practice

Research Area: Clinical Practice

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: There is a significant healthcare workforce shortage in SouthWest Victoria, which has made it difficult for many communities to access timely healthcare. Care should support positive health behaviours, which requires time and multi-disciplinary input. Our project facilitates such care and provides an alternative to traditional 1:1 consultations. Shared Medical Appointments are an evidence-based approach which delivers comprehensive care, increases access, is cost-effective, is associated with better outcomes, and high patient and clinician satisfaction. Shared Medical Appointments are ideally suited for people with long-term conditions attending to each patient's unique medical needs individually, but in a supportive group setting where all can interact, listen and learn. Drawing on the evidence base and working with Kardinia Health in Geelong, this project will develop a 'roadmap for implementation' providing a framework to easily pilot and refine for broader implementation.

Research Question: Can Shared Medical Appointments be integrated into clinical practice as an alternative to 1:1 consultations for chronic disease management? Aim: To co-design and develop a roadmap for implementation and delivery of Shared Medical Appointments that can be customised to the needs and expectations of communities and healthcare providers. Objective: To develop a roadmap and pilot Shared Medical Appointments as an alternative care offering.

Methods/Analysis: Student involvement - Assessment of clinical and non-clinical staff Job Satisfaction survey before and after the Shared Medical Appointments; Patient-reported outcomes will include validated patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) using validated surveys (determined by search of literature).

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Karen
2114 Karen Dwyer Assessing the Feasibility and Accuracy of Inpatient Continuous Glucose Monitoring Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus Hons There were about 1.2M hospitalisations associated with diabetes in 2017-18. Blood sugar control is more challenging when in hospital due to variabilities in dietary intake including fasting periods, physical inactivity, and the impact of illness itself. Wearable technology in the form of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a revolution in the field of diabetes care however experience in an inpatient setting is nascent. In this project we will use CGM in people with Type 2 Diabetes requiring insulin admitted under General Medicine at Epworth Geelong and assess blood sugar variability during their inpatient stay accounting for dietary intake and physical activity. Specifically, episodes of high and low blood sugar will be recorded and monitored and compared with usual point-of-care testing via finger prick. Patient satisfaction will be assessed via a survey. Nursing staff time will be compared with usual point-of-care testing. Are CGM accurate and cost-effective in an inpatient setting? 1.Determine glycemic excursions in people with Type 2 Diabetes requiring insulin admitted under General Medicine using CGM. 2.Record asymptomatic and symptomatic hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes (also known as time outside the range). 3.Assess wearer satisfaction with and understanding of CGM compared to point-of-care finger prick testing. 4.Calculate nursing staff time saved compared to point-of-care glycemic monitoring. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2114

Name: Professor Karen Dwyer

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Karen

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Bryony McNeill

Project Title: Assessing the Feasibility and Accuracy of Inpatient Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: There were about 1.2M hospitalisations associated with diabetes in 2017-18. Blood sugar control is more challenging when in hospital due to variabilities in dietary intake including fasting periods, physical inactivity, and the impact of illness itself. Wearable technology in the form of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a revolution in the field of diabetes care however experience in an inpatient setting is nascent. In this project we will use CGM in people with Type 2 Diabetes requiring insulin admitted under General Medicine at Epworth Geelong and assess blood sugar variability during their inpatient stay accounting for dietary intake and physical activity. Specifically, episodes of high and low blood sugar will be recorded and monitored and compared with usual point-of-care testing via finger prick. Patient satisfaction will be assessed via a survey. Nursing staff time will be compared with usual point-of-care testing.

Research Question: Are CGM accurate and cost-effective in an inpatient setting? 1.Determine glycemic excursions in people with Type 2 Diabetes requiring insulin admitted under General Medicine using CGM. 2.Record asymptomatic and symptomatic hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes (also known as time outside the range). 3.Assess wearer satisfaction with and understanding of CGM compared to point-of-care finger prick testing. 4.Calculate nursing staff time saved compared to point-of-care glycemic monitoring.

Methods/Analysis: Students will use mixed methods: Student will learn to analyse the data from continuous glucose monitor determining time blood sugars are in/out of range and impact of diet and activity and compare this to point-of-care testing. The student will implement a validated survey to assess patient satisfaction with the technology. Calculation of nursing time to administer point-of-care testing and therefore potential time saved will be calculated.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Karen
2115 Richard Williams Use of BioNanoGels as carriers for antimicrobial therapeutics Infection Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue with inappropriate outpatient dosing of antibiotics. Additionally, besides entering the body in unrequired amounts, the antibiotics have also been reported to cause side-effects to non-target vital organs such as liver or kidney. Particularly in case of chronic infections with multiple dosing of antibiotics, it is important to investigate a holistic system that is capable of sustained delivery of antimicrobials to the target sites and assist in the overall healing of the infection. Nanomaterial functionalised hydrogels are becoming popular as drug carriers due to their tuneable properties, biocompatibility, controlled drug release and degradation, and ability to protect labile drugs. Our lab has developed biocompatible BioNanoGels that can be used as a carrier for classical antibiotics (e.g., rifampicin) used against chronic infection. This project will investigate optimal drug loading and release from the BioNanoGels under various simulated peri-wound chronic infection conditions. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2115

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Ayushi Priyam, Associate Professor Fred Pfeffer, Dr Aaron Schultz

Project Title: Use of BioNanoGels as carriers for antimicrobial therapeutics

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue with inappropriate outpatient dosing of antibiotics. Additionally, besides entering the body in unrequired amounts, the antibiotics have also been reported to cause side-effects to non-target vital organs such as liver or kidney. Particularly in case of chronic infections with multiple dosing of antibiotics, it is important to investigate a holistic system that is capable of sustained delivery of antimicrobials to the target sites and assist in the overall healing of the infection. Nanomaterial functionalised hydrogels are becoming popular as drug carriers due to their tuneable properties, biocompatibility, controlled drug release and degradation, and ability to protect labile drugs.

Research Question: Our lab has developed biocompatible BioNanoGels that can be used as a carrier for classical antibiotics (e.g., rifampicin) used against chronic infection. This project will investigate optimal drug loading and release from the BioNanoGels under various simulated peri-wound chronic infection conditions.

Methods/Analysis: Spectrophotometry, biochemical assays, in vitro dialysis-bag based studies to see drug release profiles, Bacterial culturing (E. coli and S. aureus), molecular biology (RNA/DNA isolation, PCR and qPCR), microscopy, flow cytometry and statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Richard
2116 Richard Williams BioNanoGels to mitigate neuronal dysfunction Neuroscience Waurn Ponds Campus Hons In Australia, nearly 400k people are suffering from dementia and around 80k people from Parkinson's disease. Nearly 7 out of 10 people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease. Previous epidemiological and clinical data have demonstrated a strong correlation between heavy metal exposure and neurodegenerative diseases. Certain polysaccharides such as fucoidans have been proven to slow down neurodegeneration; however, their role and underlying molecular mechanisms in case of heavy metal induced neurodegeneration is not completely known. In addition, exploring the effects of polysaccharide-based hydrogels as neuroprotector on autophagic pathways in neurodegeneration will be of great interest. Our lab has developed novel BioNanoGels that have components responsible for slowing down the neurodegeneration. This project will determine whether these BioNanoGels can mitigate heavy metal (e.g., iron/copper/chromium) induced neurodegeneration by exploring mechanisms such as generation of reactive oxygen species, alteration of membrane potential and molecular level changes involving apoptosis and autophagy. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2116

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Ayushi Priyam, Dr Aaron Schultz, Professor David Nisbet

Project Title: BioNanoGels to mitigate neuronal dysfunction

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: In Australia, nearly 400k people are suffering from dementia and around 80k people from Parkinson's disease. Nearly 7 out of 10 people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease. Previous epidemiological and clinical data have demonstrated a strong correlation between heavy metal exposure and neurodegenerative diseases. Certain polysaccharides such as fucoidans have been proven to slow down neurodegeneration; however, their role and underlying molecular mechanisms in case of heavy metal induced neurodegeneration is not completely known. In addition, exploring the effects of polysaccharide-based hydrogels as neuroprotector on autophagic pathways in neurodegeneration will be of great interest.

Research Question: Our lab has developed novel BioNanoGels that have components responsible for slowing down the neurodegeneration. This project will determine whether these BioNanoGels can mitigate heavy metal (e.g., iron/copper/chromium) induced neurodegeneration by exploring mechanisms such as generation of reactive oxygen species, alteration of membrane potential and molecular level changes involving apoptosis and autophagy.

Methods/Analysis: Cell culturing (SH-SY5Y and neuronal cells), biochemical assays, molecular biology (protein/RNA/DNA isolation, RNA Seq, PCR, qPCR and western blotting), microscopy, flow cytometry, spectrophotometry, elemental quantification using ICP/MS and statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Richard
2117 Rasika Samarasinghe Investigating epigenetic therapies in paediatric brain cancer Cancer Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Childhood cancers are the highest cause of mortality in kids between the ages of 0-14 years, with an estimated 125,000 children being diagnosed annually. The 5-year survival rate for these cancers are less than 17% which hasn't changed for the past 30 years. Paediatric and adult brain cancers are genetically different, therefore clinical treatments used on adults are not effective on children and results in adverse long-term concerns. Integrative omics-based studies have shown the pathology and fundamental molecular characteristics differ significantly and cannot be extrapolated from the more widely studied adult disease. Our lab focuses on understanding a new area of genetics which are non-mutational changes that occur in DNA, known as epigenetics, and their association with cancer growth and progression. By identifying epigenetic alterations that can occur in these childhood brain cancers, it can then be targeted as potential therapies. This study will aim to further our understanding of these epigenetic changes, particularly the role of histone modification enzymes in paediatric brain cancer and identify drugs targeting these pathways as potential anti-cancer therapies. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2117

Name: Dr Rasika Samarasinghe

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Rasika

Associate Supervisor(s): Mrs Donna Johns

Project Title: Investigating epigenetic therapies in paediatric brain cancer

Research Area: Cancer

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Childhood cancers are the highest cause of mortality in kids between the ages of 0-14 years, with an estimated 125,000 children being diagnosed annually. The 5-year survival rate for these cancers are less than 17% which hasn't changed for the past 30 years. Paediatric and adult brain cancers are genetically different, therefore clinical treatments used on adults are not effective on children and results in adverse long-term concerns. Integrative omics-based studies have shown the pathology and fundamental molecular characteristics differ significantly and cannot be extrapolated from the more widely studied adult disease. Our lab focuses on understanding a new area of genetics which are non-mutational changes that occur in DNA, known as epigenetics, and their association with cancer growth and progression.

Research Question: By identifying epigenetic alterations that can occur in these childhood brain cancers, it can then be targeted as potential therapies. This study will aim to further our understanding of these epigenetic changes, particularly the role of histone modification enzymes in paediatric brain cancer and identify drugs targeting these pathways as potential anti-cancer therapies.

Methods/Analysis: This project will include cellular bioassays such as cell culturing, cell viability and cytotoxicity assays to determine therapeutic activity of epigenetic drugs and molecular assays such as real-time PCR to determine regulation of signalling pathways.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Rasika
2118 Eugene Athan The presentation of prosthetic joint infection (PJIs) at a tertiary health centre during COVID-19 Infection Barwon Health - Geelong Hons Due to an aging population, the number of people undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is rising, as it is the gold standard treatment for severe joint pain and osteoarthritis. One of the inherent lifelong risks of having a prosthetic joint in situ is infection. Two percent of the people in Australia who undergo a TJA will be diagnosed with a prosthetic joint infection (PJI). During Victorian lockdowns, TJAs were suspended to control the flow of people through hospitals, but it is unknown if the rates of PJI were also affected. The study aims to understand the characteristics of patients and micro-organisms related to PJI during the COVID pandemic. The research questions are: 1. What were the demographics of the cohort that presented for treatment of a PJI during 2020-2022, and did they differ from previous time periods? 2. How did the characteristics compare with historic data? 3. What bacterial species were most predominant during this time, and were they different from previously identified species? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2118

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Darcie Cooper, Dr Richard Page, Dr Stephen Gill

Project Title: The presentation of prosthetic joint infection (PJIs) at a tertiary health centre during COVID-19

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Due to an aging population, the number of people undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is rising, as it is the gold standard treatment for severe joint pain and osteoarthritis. One of the inherent lifelong risks of having a prosthetic joint in situ is infection. Two percent of the people in Australia who undergo a TJA will be diagnosed with a prosthetic joint infection (PJI). During Victorian lockdowns, TJAs were suspended to control the flow of people through hospitals, but it is unknown if the rates of PJI were also affected. The study aims to understand the characteristics of patients and micro-organisms related to PJI during the COVID pandemic.

Research Question: The research questions are: 1. What were the demographics of the cohort that presented for treatment of a PJI during 2020-2022, and did they differ from previous time periods? 2. How did the characteristics compare with historic data? 3. What bacterial species were most predominant during this time, and were they different from previously identified species?

Methods/Analysis: The student will complete both epidemiological and lab-based research -Patients will be from Barwon Health, Geelong, and will be identified via the Barwon Joint Registry (BJR) -Epidemiological data will be extracted from the BJR and patient medical records -Data will be collated via REDCap data management software -Data analysis will occur with Stata and GraphPad -Basic bacteriology work will be conducted at HERB Laboratory lab using patient samples collected by ACL

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Eugene
2119 Garth Stephenson The role of the placenta in fetal immune response Immunity Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) currently affect 1/10 children in Australia. Around half of all traits can be attributed to inherited factors. The causes of the remaining traits are largely unknown. The search for etiological and risk factors for NDDs has led to the maternal immune system and the placenta. During gestation, maternal immune activation (MIA) related mediators (cytokines) and pathogens entering the uterus through vertical transmission can contact the placenta and trigger a placental immune response. This can initiate an inflammatory state releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines into the fetal tissues which in extreme cases can alter expression of ND genes leading an increased risk of NDD. This suggestion therefore requires further analysis to determine which pro-inflammatory cytokines are released by pathogen stimulated cytotrophoblast (placental) cells. The aim of this project is to characterise the immune response of the placenta to both maternal immune activation induced inflammatory cytokines and/or bacterial/viral pathogens using a human placental villous cytotrophoblast cell line and cell culture techniques. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2119

Name: Dr Garth Stephenson

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Garth

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bryony McNeill

Project Title: The role of the placenta in fetal immune response

Research Area: Immunity

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) currently affect 1/10 children in Australia. Around half of all traits can be attributed to inherited factors. The causes of the remaining traits are largely unknown. The search for etiological and risk factors for NDDs has led to the maternal immune system and the placenta. During gestation, maternal immune activation (MIA) related mediators (cytokines) and pathogens entering the uterus through vertical transmission can contact the placenta and trigger a placental immune response. This can initiate an inflammatory state releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines into the fetal tissues which in extreme cases can alter expression of ND genes leading an increased risk of NDD. This suggestion therefore requires further analysis to determine which pro-inflammatory cytokines are released by pathogen stimulated cytotrophoblast (placental) cells.

Research Question: The aim of this project is to characterise the immune response of the placenta to both maternal immune activation induced inflammatory cytokines and/or bacterial/viral pathogens using a human placental villous cytotrophoblast cell line and cell culture techniques.

Methods/Analysis: This project will use cutting edge research techniques in the areas of cell culture, molecular biology, microscopy, and statistical analysis. This study will expand our understanding of the influence of the maternal immune system and the reproductive microbiome over neurodevelopmental genes in the developing embryo.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: No

URLs:



Contact Garth
2120 Eugene Athan The impact of linking hepatitis B notifications to local care pathways Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong Hons In Australia, very few people living with hepatitis B receive monitoring and only half of the people requiring treatment are on treatment '- the remainder are at risk of cancer and cirrhosis. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced global strategy to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030. In line with this, the Australian government has released a national strategy to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Australia is not on track to reach the national hepatitis B elimination targets. Treatment uptake is higher in cities than in regional areas. Western Victoria has limited access to hepatitis B care. In September 2022 Barwon South West Local Public Health Unit linked local clinical care pathways to viral hepatitis notifications to improve linkage to care. The aim of this study is to compare engagement in care in patients notified 3 months pre and post initiation of the new pathway. Engagement in care is measured by treatment initiation and viral load measurement. The hypothesis is that by enhancing the notification process to include linkage to care, more patients living with hepatitis C will receive adequate monitoring of disease and timely treatment when required. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2120

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Amanda Wade, Dr Christine Roder

Project Title: The impact of linking hepatitis B notifications to local care pathways

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: In Australia, very few people living with hepatitis B receive monitoring and only half of the people requiring treatment are on treatment '- the remainder are at risk of cancer and cirrhosis. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced global strategy to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030. In line with this, the Australian government has released a national strategy to eliminate hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Australia is not on track to reach the national hepatitis B elimination targets. Treatment uptake is higher in cities than in regional areas. Western Victoria has limited access to hepatitis B care. In September 2022 Barwon South West Local Public Health Unit linked local clinical care pathways to viral hepatitis notifications to improve linkage to care.

Research Question: The aim of this study is to compare engagement in care in patients notified 3 months pre and post initiation of the new pathway. Engagement in care is measured by treatment initiation and viral load measurement. The hypothesis is that by enhancing the notification process to include linkage to care, more patients living with hepatitis C will receive adequate monitoring of disease and timely treatment when required.

Methods/Analysis: This is a retrospective cohort study. Engagement in care is measured by treatment initiation and viral load measurement. Data will be extracted from the pathology data routinely provided to the public health unit. Analysis includes descriptive statistics (means, medians and proportions as appropriate) of the patient demographics and engagement in care pre and post-intervention.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2121 Eugene Athan Mapping hepatitis C testing data in the Barwon South West region Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong Hons Western Victoria has made great progress towards eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat. However, testing and treatment rates are declining. In order to develop new strategies to engage the remaining untreated hepatitis C population in the region, we need to understand the cascade of care for the region. With an understanding of the care cascade for the region, we can develop targeted strategies to engage people living with hepatitis C who have not yet been diagnosed or treated, and maintain progress toward elimination. The aim of this study is to develop a care cascade for the Barwon South West Region using pathology data. The rationale for this work is that a care cascade will provide insights into who has been tested and treated, and who remains to be linked into care. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2121

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Amanda Wade, Dr Christine Roder

Project Title: Mapping hepatitis C testing data in the Barwon South West region

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Western Victoria has made great progress towards eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat. However, testing and treatment rates are declining. In order to develop new strategies to engage the remaining untreated hepatitis C population in the region, we need to understand the cascade of care for the region. With an understanding of the care cascade for the region, we can develop targeted strategies to engage people living with hepatitis C who have not yet been diagnosed or treated, and maintain progress toward elimination.

Research Question: The aim of this study is to develop a care cascade for the Barwon South West Region using pathology data. The rationale for this work is that a care cascade will provide insights into who has been tested and treated, and who remains to be linked into care.

Methods/Analysis: Data will be extracted from the pathology data routinely provided to the public health unit. Analysis includes describing testing results according to demographic variables, rates of complete diagnosis, patterns of cure will help inform services delivery and plan interventions required to achieve micro-elimination. Data science and biostatistics techniques will include data cleaning and management, descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2122 Eugene Athan How has vaccination and easing of restrictions impacted SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Victoria Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong Hons Victoria, Australia has experienced multiple waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections as a result of the ongoing global pandemic. Socioeconomic factors contributing to virus transmission during the second wave (March-Sep 2020) has been investigated (Roder et al 2022). Findings from this study have found that postcodes with higher proportions of households with low income and increased economic stress, cultural and linguistic diversity and employment without access to paid leave benefits were all associated with an increased number of cases of SAR-CoV2 infection. This wave was prior to widespread vaccination and the subsequent easing of restrictions. It is not known how vaccination and State government mandated restrictions influenced the dynamics between SARS-CoV2 transmission and the socioeconomic factors identified by Roder et al This study will aim to assess the impact widespread vaccination and the restrictions implemented by the Victorian State Government has had on SARS-CoV2 transmission, including changes to the socioeconomic factors associated with increased community transmission. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2122

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Christine Roder

Project Title: How has vaccination and easing of restrictions impacted SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Victoria

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Victoria, Australia has experienced multiple waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections as a result of the ongoing global pandemic. Socioeconomic factors contributing to virus transmission during the second wave (March-Sep 2020) has been investigated (Roder et al 2022). Findings from this study have found that postcodes with higher proportions of households with low income and increased economic stress, cultural and linguistic diversity and employment without access to paid leave benefits were all associated with an increased number of cases of SAR-CoV2 infection. This wave was prior to widespread vaccination and the subsequent easing of restrictions. It is not known how vaccination and State government mandated restrictions influenced the dynamics between SARS-CoV2 transmission and the socioeconomic factors identified by Roder et al

Research Question: This study will aim to assess the impact widespread vaccination and the restrictions implemented by the Victorian State Government has had on SARS-CoV2 transmission, including changes to the socioeconomic factors associated with increased community transmission.

Methods/Analysis: Methods and day-to-day activities include: online data acquisition from government data bases, data management and cleaning, data analysis including epidemiological statistical methods, descriptive statistics and regression anlaysis, data visualisation and data reporting.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2123 Eugene Athan Antimicrobial prescribing practices in community acquired pneumonia on hospital discharge Clinical Practice HERB Building Hons Approximately 30% of antimicrobials prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary and up to 50% are inappropriate. The consequences are rising antimicrobial resistance, hospital readmission, morbidity and treatment costs. Prescribing for prolonged duration of antimicrobial therapy is common and a major contributor to inappropriateness during patient discharge from hospital. A single study in New South Wales in Australia found that 26% of 236 discharge prescriptions were inappropriate for antimicrobial choice, 36% for dose, 36% for frequency and 79% for duration. One of the most common diagnoses for prescribed antimicrobial on hospital discharge is the community acquired pneumonia (CAP). Understanding of antimicrobial prescribing practices in CAP is important to inform quality improvement strategy for patients on hospital discharge in Australia. 1. What is the pattern of antimicrobial prescribing practices for patients on hospital discharge with community acquired pneumonia? 2. What is guideline-adherence of antimicrobial prescribing for patients on hospital discharge with community acquired pneumonia? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2123

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Sajal Kumar Saha

Project Title: Antimicrobial prescribing practices in community acquired pneumonia on hospital discharge

Research Area: Clinical Practice

Location: HERB Building

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Approximately 30% of antimicrobials prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary and up to 50% are inappropriate. The consequences are rising antimicrobial resistance, hospital readmission, morbidity and treatment costs. Prescribing for prolonged duration of antimicrobial therapy is common and a major contributor to inappropriateness during patient discharge from hospital. A single study in New South Wales in Australia found that 26% of 236 discharge prescriptions were inappropriate for antimicrobial choice, 36% for dose, 36% for frequency and 79% for duration. One of the most common diagnoses for prescribed antimicrobial on hospital discharge is the community acquired pneumonia (CAP). Understanding of antimicrobial prescribing practices in CAP is important to inform quality improvement strategy for patients on hospital discharge in Australia.

Research Question: 1. What is the pattern of antimicrobial prescribing practices for patients on hospital discharge with community acquired pneumonia? 2. What is guideline-adherence of antimicrobial prescribing for patients on hospital discharge with community acquired pneumonia?

Methods/Analysis: The student will undertake a survey to collect the antimicrobial prescribing data retrospectively for six months for patients on hospital discharge with CAP from medical records of University Hospital Geelong. The student will use BOSSnet clinical information system and RedCap for data collection and management and will perform statistical analysis with the help of a biostatistician.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2124 Bryony McNeill Hydrogen sulfide and gestational diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Diabetes during pregnancy is becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia and worldwide. Gestational Diabetes is associated with significant health risks for both gestational parent and offspring including pre-eclampsia and large for gestational age offspring. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. The pathophysiology of gestational diabetes is complex. However, placental dysfunction has been identified as an important feature of the condition. During pregnancy, the placenta plays a critical role in delivering oxygen and nutrients to the developing fetus and is a key determinant of fetal growth and development. The role of hydrogen sulfide in diabetes and diabetic complications has been widely studied in the non-pregnant state. However, although the placenta is a known source of hydrogen sulfide production, its role in the placenta in pregnancies affected by diabetes has not been investigated. The aim of this project is to characterise the hydrogen sulfide system in the placenta from pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes. Furthermore, the relationship between metformin (the most commonly prescribed drug used in the treatment of diabetes) and hydrogen sulfide in the placenta will be examined. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2124

Name: Dr Bryony McNeill

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Bryony

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Garth Stephenson, Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Leni Rivera

Project Title: Hydrogen sulfide and gestational diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Diabetes during pregnancy is becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia and worldwide. Gestational Diabetes is associated with significant health risks for both gestational parent and offspring including pre-eclampsia and large for gestational age offspring. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. The pathophysiology of gestational diabetes is complex. However, placental dysfunction has been identified as an important feature of the condition. During pregnancy, the placenta plays a critical role in delivering oxygen and nutrients to the developing fetus and is a key determinant of fetal growth and development. The role of hydrogen sulfide in diabetes and diabetic complications has been widely studied in the non-pregnant state. However, although the placenta is a known source of hydrogen sulfide production, its role in the placenta in pregnancies affected by diabetes has not been investigated.

Research Question: The aim of this project is to characterise the hydrogen sulfide system in the placenta from pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes. Furthermore, the relationship between metformin (the most commonly prescribed drug used in the treatment of diabetes) and hydrogen sulfide in the placenta will be examined.

Methods/Analysis: This project will use cultured placental cells to investigate hydrogen sulfide's role in the placenta. A range of analytical techniques will be used, such as cell culture, histology, immunohistochemistry, biochemical methods, and molecular biology. Students will also learn statistical analyses as part of this project.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Bryony
2125 Bryony McNeill Milk bioactives and their role in developmental programming Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Lactation is a critical period during early development. Breastmilk is a complex biological fluid which contains the optimal composition to support healthy infant development. In addition to meeting the nutritional needs of the developing infant, breastmilk also contains numerous bioactive compounds including miRNAs, immune modulators, hormones, and other signalling molecules. These non-nutritive components of milk play an important role in regulating the growth and development of the infant, not only during the lactation period, but throughout childhood and into adulthood. Despite the important role that breastmilk plays in development, the factors regulating the composition of breastmilk have not been fully described. In particular, little is known about the potential impacts of gestational diabetes on milk composition and mammary gland function, despite this condition affecting 1 in 6 Australian women during pregnancy. The aim of this study is to use a mouse model to investigate the effects of diabetes, and its treatments, on the composition of bioactive compounds in milk. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2125

Name: Dr Bryony McNeill

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Bryony

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Meagan Craven, Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Leni Rivera

Project Title: Milk bioactives and their role in developmental programming

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Lactation is a critical period during early development. Breastmilk is a complex biological fluid which contains the optimal composition to support healthy infant development. In addition to meeting the nutritional needs of the developing infant, breastmilk also contains numerous bioactive compounds including miRNAs, immune modulators, hormones, and other signalling molecules. These non-nutritive components of milk play an important role in regulating the growth and development of the infant, not only during the lactation period, but throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Research Question: Despite the important role that breastmilk plays in development, the factors regulating the composition of breastmilk have not been fully described. In particular, little is known about the potential impacts of gestational diabetes on milk composition and mammary gland function, despite this condition affecting 1 in 6 Australian women during pregnancy. The aim of this study is to use a mouse model to investigate the effects of diabetes, and its treatments, on the composition of bioactive compounds in milk.

Methods/Analysis: Most of the data collection for this project will be conducted in the laboratory, using a range of different methods to address the research question. Techniques used in the project will include molecular biology methods such as real-time PCR, histology and immunohistochemistry, and advanced statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Bryony
2126 Clifford Liongue Investigating the role of cytokine signalling in development and function of blood and immune cells Immunity Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons The development and function of the blood and immune cells is exquisitely controlled by complex signalling networks such as the cytokine signalling network, one of several important pathways for mediating the cell-cell communication. A vital component of this pathway is the cytokine receptors that convert the extracellular (cytokine) signal into the intracellular signalling pathways that ultimately lead to changes in the responsive cells. One such intracellular signalling pathway is the Janus kinase/Signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway, which is controlled by a series of negative regulators including Suppressor of Cytokine Signalling (SOCS). Zebrafish is a powerful model for understanding blood and immune cell development and function, due to its similarities with mammalian immune systems. This project will use zebrafish to investigate the regulation of blood and immune cell function by various cytokine signalling components. We have created zebrafish lines where the cytokine signalling components have been modified to be either more or less activated. This project will utilise loss of function zebrafish lines to investigate the effect of the reduction of negative regulation on the development and function of blood and immune cells. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2126

Name: Dr Clifford Liongue

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Clifford

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Alister Ward

Project Title: Investigating the role of cytokine signalling in development and function of blood and immune cells

Research Area: Immunity

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: The development and function of the blood and immune cells is exquisitely controlled by complex signalling networks such as the cytokine signalling network, one of several important pathways for mediating the cell-cell communication. A vital component of this pathway is the cytokine receptors that convert the extracellular (cytokine) signal into the intracellular signalling pathways that ultimately lead to changes in the responsive cells. One such intracellular signalling pathway is the Janus kinase/Signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway, which is controlled by a series of negative regulators including Suppressor of Cytokine Signalling (SOCS). Zebrafish is a powerful model for understanding blood and immune cell development and function, due to its similarities with mammalian immune systems. This project will use zebrafish to investigate the regulation of blood and immune cell function by various cytokine signalling components.

Research Question: We have created zebrafish lines where the cytokine signalling components have been modified to be either more or less activated. This project will utilise loss of function zebrafish lines to investigate the effect of the reduction of negative regulation on the development and function of blood and immune cells.

Methods/Analysis: This project will utilise cutting-edge techniques to directly image and study zebrafish lymphocytes. This includes use of a customised range of zebrafish knockout and transgenic lines coupled with fluorescent activated cell sorting, fluorescent microscopy and molecular biology techniques such as PCR, qPCR, high resolution melt analysis, sanger sequencing, and in vitro transcription.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Zebrafish

URLs:



Contact Clifford
2127 Natalie Hyde Selective screening for hip dysplasia: How many cases are missed and how is it impacting treatment? Musculoskeletal Medicine Barwon Health - Geelong GCert Hons Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is amongst the most common conditions in paediatric populations. The condition spans across a spectrum of abnormalities that range from delayed development of the hip through to complete dislocation. When detected early developmental hip dysplasia (DDH) can be effectively and conservatively treated in up to 98% of infants. In Australia, is it standard practice to combine universal hip examination in infancy and selective ultrasound screening to infants deemed at-risk. Despite screening processes being in place, the selective nature of screening means that some infants with DDH will be missed and diagnosis will be delayed. In later presenting cases there is a much higher likelihood of requiring more invasive surgical intervention. One study conducted in metropolitan Melbourne reported that approximately half the cases of DDH were not detected using current screening protocols at birth, however to date there has been no studies performed in a regional context. Therefore, this project will aim to detemine: 1. the incidence of late presentation in a regional setting at University Hospital; and 2. the difference in timing and type of treatment of early- and late presenting developmental dysplasia of the hip. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2127

Name: Dr Natalie Hyde

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Natalie

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Richard Inglis, Associate Professor Leo Donnan

Project Title: Selective screening for hip dysplasia: How many cases are missed and how is it impacting treatment?

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is amongst the most common conditions in paediatric populations. The condition spans across a spectrum of abnormalities that range from delayed development of the hip through to complete dislocation. When detected early developmental hip dysplasia (DDH) can be effectively and conservatively treated in up to 98% of infants. In Australia, is it standard practice to combine universal hip examination in infancy and selective ultrasound screening to infants deemed at-risk. Despite screening processes being in place, the selective nature of screening means that some infants with DDH will be missed and diagnosis will be delayed. In later presenting cases there is a much higher likelihood of requiring more invasive surgical intervention.

Research Question: One study conducted in metropolitan Melbourne reported that approximately half the cases of DDH were not detected using current screening protocols at birth, however to date there has been no studies performed in a regional context. Therefore, this project will aim to detemine: 1. the incidence of late presentation in a regional setting at University Hospital; and 2. the difference in timing and type of treatment of early- and late presenting developmental dysplasia of the hip.

Methods/Analysis: The student undertaking this project will conduct a retrospective review of medical records of infants born at University Hospital within a defined time period who were subsequently referred to University Hospital Orthopaedic Clinic for treatment of DDH. Day to day activities will include establishing and maintaining a study database, data collection, and statistical analysis and interpretation of data.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Natalie
2128 Carly Botheras An exploration of biological sex and clinical outcome in Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia? Infection Barwon Health - Geelong Hons Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections, known clinically as bacteraemia, have an annual incidence of around 18/100,000/year and a stable mortality rate of 18%. This mortality rate is higher than most cancers, as well as other infections such as influenza. Although S. aureus bacteraemia can infect anyone, those older than 65 are at increased risk. Regarding biological sex, it has been observed that males are more likely to get an infection, however females are associated with more severe disease. However, this is conflicted within the literature. This Honours project looks to identify the differences between male and female cases of staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in the Geelong population. What are the key factors that are different between male and female staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia infections and do they affect outcome of the disease? Hypothesis: The cohort will have more males than females, but females will have worse outcomes Full Project Information

Project ID: 2128

Name: Dr Carly Botheras

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Carly

Associate Supervisor(s):
Professor Eugene Athan
Project Title: An exploration of biological sex and clinical outcome in Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia?

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections, known clinically as bacteraemia, have an annual incidence of around 18/100,000/year and a stable mortality rate of 18%. This mortality rate is higher than most cancers, as well as other infections such as influenza. Although S. aureus bacteraemia can infect anyone, those older than 65 are at increased risk. Regarding biological sex, it has been observed that males are more likely to get an infection, however females are associated with more severe disease. However, this is conflicted within the literature. This Honours project looks to identify the differences between male and female cases of staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in the Geelong population.

Research Question: What are the key factors that are different between male and female staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia infections and do they affect outcome of the disease? Hypothesis: The cohort will have more males than females, but females will have worse outcomes

Methods/Analysis: Epidemiological methods will be collated from medical records. Microbiological assays will be performed to identify if there are bacterial characteristics that are predominant in one biological sex stratified disease state. Bioinformatic analyses will be performed to see if there are specific bacterial genetic differences within genes of biological sex stratified disease state. Ethics will be required at both BH and Deakin.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Carly
2129 Melissa Oxley Landscape of Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) across Australia Medical Education Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is an assessment that has been adopted by Medical Schools worldwide since 1975 to assess students' performance in a clinical setting. It is used to assess students in key areas of problem solving, communication, decision-making and patient management skills. Through direct observation, it assesses competency based on objective testing. An OSCE consists of a set of clinical stations to assess performance, hence allows for recall, teaching audit and determination of standards. It is reproducible. To pass an OSCE each Unit of Study must decide upon passing criteria (no. of stations and overall minimum mark required). Deakin's SoM implements OSCEs in all 3 disciplines; Medicine, Optometry and Medical Imaging. Although OSCEs are widely used assessment/teaching tools (and have been for some decades), there is recent debate as to their future in this space with some prominent Institutions recently choosing to retire their use of OSCEs. This project aims to describe/evaluate the use of this assessment type across Australia. This leads to the key questions: 1) What is the current landscape of OSCE use across the 21 Medical Schools in Australia? 2) What is the current attitude/perspective of OSCE use in this ever-changing assessment environment? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2129

Name: Dr Melissa Oxley

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine

Contact Melissa

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Jemma Skeat

Project Title: Landscape of Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) across Australia

Research Area: Medical Education

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: The Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is an assessment that has been adopted by Medical Schools worldwide since 1975 to assess students' performance in a clinical setting. It is used to assess students in key areas of problem solving, communication, decision-making and patient management skills. Through direct observation, it assesses competency based on objective testing. An OSCE consists of a set of clinical stations to assess performance, hence allows for recall, teaching audit and determination of standards. It is reproducible. To pass an OSCE each Unit of Study must decide upon passing criteria (no. of stations and overall minimum mark required). Deakin's SoM implements OSCEs in all 3 disciplines; Medicine, Optometry and Medical Imaging. Although OSCEs are widely used assessment/teaching tools (and have been for some decades), there is recent debate as to their future in this space with some prominent Institutions recently choosing to retire their use of OSCEs.

Research Question: This project aims to describe/evaluate the use of this assessment type across Australia. This leads to the key questions: 1) What is the current landscape of OSCE use across the 21 Medical Schools in Australia? 2) What is the current attitude/perspective of OSCE use in this ever-changing assessment environment?

Methods/Analysis: This overall aim will be achieved by working with ACCLAIM, a collaboration of Medical Schools across Australia to collect data about how each school is using the OSCE. The student will analyse simple qualitative and quantitative data. Other tasks will include data entry and transcription, and presentation and interpretation of the results/findings.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Melissa

Video Presentation
2130 Alison Kennedy Farmer Voices: Providing tailored opportunities for engagement in public health research and service Rural and Regional Health Western District Health Service - Hamilton GCert Hons Farmers are exposed to a wide range of health, wellbeing and safety risks. They are commonly known for their self-reliance and avoidance of seeking help, yet demonstrate willingness to assist others. While farmers can be challenging to engage in public health research and service development, it is critical that we do engage them in a meaningful way. Tailoring engagement to the needs and interests of farmers may be one way to achieve this. This research aims to develop and evaluate "Farmer Voices" recruiting and supporting a core group of farming contributors to co-design and participate in public health research and service development activities in a way that meets their needs and interests, and maximises their contribution. The objective of this research is to understand the barriers and enablers to farmers engaging in public health research and to inform an approach to increase meaningful co-design and farmer engagement to support translational research in the area of rural health, wellbeing and safety. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2130

Name: Associate Professor Alison Kennedy

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, NCFH

Contact Alison

Associate Supervisor(s): Ms Kelly Barnes, Dr Joanna Macdonald

Project Title: Farmer Voices: Providing tailored opportunities for engagement in public health research and service

Research Area: Rural and Regional Health

Location: Western District Health Service - Hamilton

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Farmers are exposed to a wide range of health, wellbeing and safety risks. They are commonly known for their self-reliance and avoidance of seeking help, yet demonstrate willingness to assist others. While farmers can be challenging to engage in public health research and service development, it is critical that we do engage them in a meaningful way. Tailoring engagement to the needs and interests of farmers may be one way to achieve this. This research aims to develop and evaluate "Farmer Voices" recruiting and supporting a core group of farming contributors to co-design and participate in public health research and service development activities in a way that meets their needs and interests, and maximises their contribution.

Research Question: The objective of this research is to understand the barriers and enablers to farmers engaging in public health research and to inform an approach to increase meaningful co-design and farmer engagement to support translational research in the area of rural health, wellbeing and safety.

Methods/Analysis: The student will recruit participants from across Victoria through an EOI disseminated via existing NCFH and industry networks. Focus groups will identify enablers and barriers to participation. The student will thematically analyse focus group data and develop further recommendations on how to increase farmer engagement.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: No

URLs:



Contact Alison
2131 Richard Williams Bone regeneration: Understanding the effectiveness of hydrogels to improve tissue integration Musculoskeletal Medicine Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Bone regeneration is a crucial area of research to address bone defects caused by trauma, injury or disease. Existing solutions often lack the biophysical and chemical cues required to stimulate an osteogenic response. The limitations prompt the exploration of hydrogels as scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. Self-assembled peptide (SAP) hydrogels have shown promise in providing an osteoinductive microenvironment for cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation. However, their effectiveness in promoting bone tissue integration and regeneration needs investigation. This research project investigates zebrafish models' osteogenic in vivo response in SAP hydrogel scaffolds. We have investigated the in vitro and ex vivo bone marrow stromal cell differentiation pathway in the SAP hydrogel scaffolds. We hypothesize that the SAP hydrogel scaffolds will have a minimal inflammatory response and promote bone-tissue integration and regeneration. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2131

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Aaqil Rifai, Professor David Nisbet

Project Title: Bone regeneration: Understanding the effectiveness of hydrogels to improve tissue integration

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Bone regeneration is a crucial area of research to address bone defects caused by trauma, injury or disease. Existing solutions often lack the biophysical and chemical cues required to stimulate an osteogenic response. The limitations prompt the exploration of hydrogels as scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. Self-assembled peptide (SAP) hydrogels have shown promise in providing an osteoinductive microenvironment for cell attachment, proliferation, and differentiation. However, their effectiveness in promoting bone tissue integration and regeneration needs investigation.

Research Question: This research project investigates zebrafish models' osteogenic in vivo response in SAP hydrogel scaffolds. We have investigated the in vitro and ex vivo bone marrow stromal cell differentiation pathway in the SAP hydrogel scaffolds. We hypothesize that the SAP hydrogel scaffolds will have a minimal inflammatory response and promote bone-tissue integration and regeneration.

Methods/Analysis: The inflammatory response will be evaluated in vitro using immune cell cultures and in vivo animal models, employing ELISA and immunohistochemistry. Tissue integration and regeneration assessments will include histological staining, micro-CT, mechanical testing, and analysis of bone-related markers. Day-to-day activities involve experimental execution, data analysis, literature review, research meetings, and scientific writing.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Zebrafish

URLs: Google Scholar



Contact Richard
2132 John Stambas TIMPS and the extracellular matrix: Can the study of host proteins improve recovery from 'flu' Infection Waurn Ponds Campus Hons Seasonal influenza viruses have re-emerged to significantly impact human health post the COVID19 pandemic. Improving current intervention strategies is critical to ensure adequate protection against ongoing seasonal epidemics and future pandemics and to reduce the overall burden of disease, especially in susceptible populations such as the very young, immunocompromised and elderly. The ADAMTS extracellular matrix enzyme family has recently been shown by our group and others, to impact influenza virus replication and immunity. ADAMTS function is regulated by tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases 1-4 (TIMPS 1-4). The project will characterise TIMP expression and aassess their impact influenza on virus replication and influenza-specific immunity in an in vitro model. The findings will be important not only for seasonal influenza epidemics but may also assist in combating other respiratory infections such as RSV, parainfluenza virus and COVID. Research question: Which TIMPS are involved in ADAMTS expression following in vitro influenza virus infection? Aims: 1. To characterise the kinetics of TIMP and ADAMTS expression following virus infection in human commercially available cell lines. 2. To inhibit/block ADAMTS function directly/indirectly and assess impact on virus replication, TIMP, ADAMTS and cytokine expression. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2132

Name: Professor John Stambas

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact John

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bing-Ru Wu

Project Title: TIMPS and the extracellular matrix: Can the study of host proteins improve recovery from 'flu'

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: Hons

Project Background: Seasonal influenza viruses have re-emerged to significantly impact human health post the COVID19 pandemic. Improving current intervention strategies is critical to ensure adequate protection against ongoing seasonal epidemics and future pandemics and to reduce the overall burden of disease, especially in susceptible populations such as the very young, immunocompromised and elderly. The ADAMTS extracellular matrix enzyme family has recently been shown by our group and others, to impact influenza virus replication and immunity. ADAMTS function is regulated by tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases 1-4 (TIMPS 1-4). The project will characterise TIMP expression and aassess their impact influenza on virus replication and influenza-specific immunity in an in vitro model. The findings will be important not only for seasonal influenza epidemics but may also assist in combating other respiratory infections such as RSV, parainfluenza virus and COVID.

Research Question: Research question: Which TIMPS are involved in ADAMTS expression following in vitro influenza virus infection? Aims: 1. To characterise the kinetics of TIMP and ADAMTS expression following virus infection in human commercially available cell lines. 2. To inhibit/block ADAMTS function directly/indirectly and assess impact on virus replication, TIMP, ADAMTS and cytokine expression.

Methods/Analysis: The honours student will be performing in vitro experiments to investigate the impact of TIMPS on ADAMTS expression and influenza virus infection. This project will provide the student with expertise in performing virology and molecular biology techniques and allow the student to design and optimize novel methodologies. The student will be trained in the organization of experiments. Techniques include but are not limited to, cell culture, RT-PCR and virus plaque assay.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: No

URLs:



Contact John
2133 Jeffrey Craig What shapes our affinity with the natural world? A twin study Neuroscience Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons The natural world is in crisis; biodiversity is falling rapidly, driven by climate change and other factors. However, we have the collective capacity to reverse this trend if we act now. Nevertheless, there does not seem to be a critical mass of people willing to advocate for change. If we knew the factors that influence our affinity for the natural environment, we may be better able to inspire those who are currently undecided. One factor that has been linked with an affinity for nature is empathy. We therefore need to ask questions about the roles of genes and environment in influencing people"s affinity for nature and empathy. Twin studies offer the best approach to do this. Using data from a longitudinal study of 250 twin pairs, this project will act as the first step towards our long-term goal. We have collected data from the Environmental World Views questionnaire and the Measuring Empathy questionnaire from 170 pairs of 11-year-old twins. The main aim is "to investigate the relative influence of genetics & environment in influencing variation in empathy and an affinity for nature & how these traits relate with each other, using a twin model". The hypotheses are: 1.Shared environment will be the greatest source of variation in both nature relatedness and empathy. 2.Proximity to green space will be strongly associated with nature relatedness and empathy. 3.Nature relatedness and empathy will share a common genetic architecture. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2133

Name: Professor Jeffrey Craig

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Jeffrey

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Euan Ritchie

Project Title: What shapes our affinity with the natural world? A twin study

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: The natural world is in crisis; biodiversity is falling rapidly, driven by climate change and other factors. However, we have the collective capacity to reverse this trend if we act now. Nevertheless, there does not seem to be a critical mass of people willing to advocate for change. If we knew the factors that influence our affinity for the natural environment, we may be better able to inspire those who are currently undecided. One factor that has been linked with an affinity for nature is empathy. We therefore need to ask questions about the roles of genes and environment in influencing people's affinity for nature and empathy. Twin studies offer the best approach to do this. Using data from a longitudinal study of 250 twin pairs, this project will act as the first step towards our long-term goal. We have collected data from the Environmental World Views questionnaire and the Measuring Empathy questionnaire from 170 pairs of 11-year-old twins.

Research Question: The main aim is "to investigate the relative influence of genetics & environment in influencing variation in empathy and an affinity for nature & how these traits relate with each other, using a twin model". The hypotheses are: 1.Shared environment will be the greatest source of variation in both nature relatedness and empathy. 2.Proximity to green space will be strongly associated with nature relatedness and empathy. 3.Nature relatedness and empathy will share a common genetic architecture.

Methods/Analysis: The student will be supported to analyse the twin data using statistical twin models that compare similarity within identical and fraternal pairs and those that partition variance related to components of genetics, shared environment and individual factors. The student will use the STATA statistical package using ACE (Additive genetic, Common environment, nonshared Environment) modelling.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: https://www.deakin.edu.au/impact

The Peri/Post-natal Epigenetic Twins Study (PETS)



Contact Jeffrey
2134 Alyssa Barry Prevalence of Copy Number Variants (CNVs) associated with antimalarial drug resistance in Papua New Guinea Infection Barwon Health - Geelong GCert Hons Antimalarial drugs are effective means to treat infections and control and contain malaria, however Plasmodium falciparum has now developed resistance to all first line antimalarials. Currently, Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) combining a fast-acting artemisinin derivative combined with a slower acting partner drug are first line therapy. However, resistance to artemisinin was first detected in Cambodia in around 2009 and is now firmly established in SE Asia and other artemisinin resistance foci have emerged in South America, Africa and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Whilst partner drugs are still effective, this places selective pressure on parasites. Gene copy number variants (CNVs) are a type of mutation that can lead to resistance. Specifically, mefloquine resistance is associated with CNVs in the P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 (mdr1) gene, and resistance against piperaquine with duplications of the plasmepsin 2 (pm2) gene. In the context of spreading artemisinin resistance, it is imperative to monitor for resistance against partner drugs. This project aims to investigate mdr1 and pm2 CNVs in PNG utilising archived samples collected in 2019-2020. Specifically, this project aims to: Aim 1) Validate quantitative (q)PCR diagnostic assays for CNV detection in mdr1 and pm2. Aim 2) Measure the prevalence of CNVs in mdr1 and pm2 in PNG. Aim 3) Confirm the origins of CNVs by genotyping gene flanking regions. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2134

Name: Professor Alyssa Barry

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, Burnet Institute, IMPACT

Contact Alyssa

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Zahra Razook

Project Title: Prevalence of Copy Number Variants (CNVs) associated with antimalarial drug resistance in Papua New Guinea

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Antimalarial drugs are effective means to treat infections and control and contain malaria, however Plasmodium falciparum has now developed resistance to all first line antimalarials. Currently, Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs) combining a fast-acting artemisinin derivative combined with a slower acting partner drug are first line therapy. However, resistance to artemisinin was first detected in Cambodia in around 2009 and is now firmly established in SE Asia and other artemisinin resistance foci have emerged in South America, Africa and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Whilst partner drugs are still effective, this places selective pressure on parasites. Gene copy number variants (CNVs) are a type of mutation that can lead to resistance. Specifically, mefloquine resistance is associated with CNVs in the P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 (mdr1) gene, and resistance against piperaquine with duplications of the plasmepsin 2 (pm2) gene.

Research Question: In the context of spreading artemisinin resistance, it is imperative to monitor for resistance against partner drugs. This project aims to investigate mdr1 and pm2 CNVs in PNG utilising archived samples collected in 2019-2020. Specifically, this project aims to: Aim 1) Validate quantitative (q)PCR diagnostic assays for CNV detection in mdr1 and pm2. Aim 2) Measure the prevalence of CNVs in mdr1 and pm2 in PNG. Aim 3) Confirm the origins of CNVs by genotyping gene flanking regions.

Methods/Analysis: The project will develop and apply sensitive qPCR assays to hundreds of human malaria samples from two locations of PNG. Data analysis will involve applying the real time qPCR software to accurately quantify gene copy number. A small number of CNV-positive samples will be subjected to additional genotyping and advanced data analysis (Identity by Descent) techniques used to explore ancestral relationships between variant strains to determine whether they are imported or emerged locally.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Alyssa
2135 Alyna Turner Personality disorder in people with methamphetamine dependence Neuroscience Barwon Health - Geelong GCert Hons Mental health and substance use conditions commonly co-occur. Rates of personality disorders are known to be high in people with methamphetamine dependence and negatively impact on outcomes. However, to impact of personality disorder on outcomes in clinical trials of methamphetamine use treatments is less clear. This project will utilise data collected from a clinical trial of N-acetyl cysteine for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence. A screening questionnaire for personality disorder was administered at trial entry of the 12-week intervention study. We wish to understand the prevalence and impact of personality disorder in a participants enrolled in a clinical trial of methamphetamine dependence. The specific study aims are to (1) determine rates of above threshold personality symptoms; (2) determine characteristics of those who are and are not above threshold on the screening measure; and (3) determine the impact of the presence of above threshold symptoms on methamphetamine use over the course during the trial. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2135

Name: Dr Alyna Turner

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Alyna

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Olivia Dean

Project Title: Personality disorder in people with methamphetamine dependence

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Mental health and substance use conditions commonly co-occur. Rates of personality disorders are known to be high in people with methamphetamine dependence and negatively impact on outcomes. However, to impact of personality disorder on outcomes in clinical trials of methamphetamine use treatments is less clear. This project will utilise data collected from a clinical trial of N-acetyl cysteine for the treatment of methamphetamine dependence. A screening questionnaire for personality disorder was administered at trial entry of the 12-week intervention study.

Research Question: We wish to understand the prevalence and impact of personality disorder in a participants enrolled in a clinical trial of methamphetamine dependence. The specific study aims are to (1) determine rates of above threshold personality symptoms; (2) determine characteristics of those who are and are not above threshold on the screening measure; and (3) determine the impact of the presence of above threshold symptoms on methamphetamine use over the course during the trial.

Methods/Analysis: This study will use data that has been collected. Rates of participants scoring above threshold on the screening questionnaire will be calculated and demographic and methamphetamine use characteristics explored. Using personality disorder as the exploratory factor, the project will explore statistical modelling to determine the impact on methamphetamine use over the duration of the trial and between treatment groups.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: About IMPACT Trials



Contact Alyna
2136 Alyssa Barry The impact of malaria control on within host infection complexity Immunity Barwon Health - Geelong GCert Hons Within-host infection complexity is a poorly understood aspect of malaria genomic epidemiology and is particularly important as malaria parasites require multi-clone infections to generate diversity through sexual recombination. As transmission declines, there are fewer infections overall, and this reduces infection complexity, however, there is a complex relationship with other environmental factors that we don't fully understand. Defining the parameters of transmission dynamics is critical for malaria control programs to assess their efficacy and progress towards malaria elimination. Insights into within-host infection complexity and genetic diversity will also shed light on the processes by which malaria parasites adapt to changing transmission, as well as the potential for the emergence and spread of advantageous traits such as drug resistance or virulence. The aim of this project is to determine the relationship between complexity of infection and malaria transmission for P. falciparum, the most virulent human malaria parasites. Specifically it aims to: Aim 1) Measure changes in infection complexity over time and space Aim 2) Measure changes in within-infection diversity over time and space Aim 3) Measure associations between infection complexity, genetic diversity and P. falciparum transmission. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2136

Name: Professor Alyssa Barry

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, Burnet Institute, IMPACT

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Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Kirsty McCann

Project Title: The impact of malaria control on within host infection complexity

Research Area: Immunity

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Within-host infection complexity is a poorly understood aspect of malaria genomic epidemiology and is particularly important as malaria parasites require multi-clone infections to generate diversity through sexual recombination. As transmission declines, there are fewer infections overall, and this reduces infection complexity, however, there is a complex relationship with other environmental factors that we don't fully understand. Defining the parameters of transmission dynamics is critical for malaria control programs to assess their efficacy and progress towards malaria elimination. Insights into within-host infection complexity and genetic diversity will also shed light on the processes by which malaria parasites adapt to changing transmission, as well as the potential for the emergence and spread of advantageous traits such as drug resistance or virulence.

Research Question: The aim of this project is to determine the relationship between complexity of infection and malaria transmission for P. falciparum, the most virulent human malaria parasites. Specifically it aims to: Aim 1) Measure changes in infection complexity over time and space Aim 2) Measure changes in within-infection diversity over time and space Aim 3) Measure associations between infection complexity, genetic diversity and P. falciparum transmission.

Methods/Analysis: We have available amplicon sequencing of 5 highly polymorphic P. falciparum genes available from Papua New Guinea serial cross-sectional sectional surveys conducted from 2005-2020 (East Sepik Province 2005,2012,2016, 2019; Madang Province 2006, 2010, 2014, 2020). Analysis of infection complexity and clonal variants in deep sequencing data will explore how changes in malaria transmission due to malaria control impacts the diversity of clones within infections.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Alyssa
2137 Richard Williams Hyaluronan-Peptide Scaffolds for Controlled BMP-2 Release Musculoskeletal Medicine Waurn Ponds Campus GCert Hons Bone defects from traumatic injury, congenital defects or degenerative disease that exceed a critical size threshold require medical intervention for optimal recovery. Tissue engineering involving the use of biomimetic 3D scaffolds compatible with bone formation can be an effective alternative to conventional treatments. One strategy that can be employed is controlled release of growth factors such as BMP-2 from a scaffold, that can stimulate osteogenesis. A BMP-2 binding epitope has been reported as being effective at attenuating undesirable burst release characteristics and has potential applications in bone tissue engineering. Can a BMP-2 binding epitope will be synthesized, then conjugated to a 3D hyaluronic acid-based scaffold in a bioavailable manner? The aim of this study is to measure the release profile from the hyaluronan-peptide scaffold to determine if this system will be suitable for tissue engineering. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2137

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

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Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Gareth Boer

Project Title: Hyaluronan-Peptide Scaffolds for Controlled BMP-2 Release

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Bone defects from traumatic injury, congenital defects or degenerative disease that exceed a critical size threshold require medical intervention for optimal recovery. Tissue engineering involving the use of biomimetic 3D scaffolds compatible with bone formation can be an effective alternative to conventional treatments. One strategy that can be employed is controlled release of growth factors such as BMP-2 from a scaffold, that can stimulate osteogenesis. A BMP-2 binding epitope has been reported as being effective at attenuating undesirable burst release characteristics and has potential applications in bone tissue engineering.

Research Question: Can a BMP-2 binding epitope will be synthesized, then conjugated to a 3D hyaluronic acid-based scaffold in a bioavailable manner? The aim of this study is to measure the release profile from the hyaluronan-peptide scaffold to determine if this system will be suitable for tissue engineering.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques: Peptides will be synthesized using solid-phase peptide synthesis and characterized using mass spectrometry and IR spectroscopy. Modified hyaluronic acid will be synthesized using general organic synthesis techniques and characterized using NMR spectroscopy. BMP-2 release will be quantified using ELISA. Biological response will be monitored in in vitro cell culture.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Google Scholar



Contact Richard
2138 Jacquie Cotton Teens' exposure to hazards on farms and burns presentations: A Gear Up for Ag and hospital dataset analysis Public Health Western District Health Service - Hamilton GCert Hons Young persons on farms are more likely to engage in farming practices early in life and as a result they make up a significant portion of farm injuries and fatalities. The pattern of burns injuries in young persons on farms is unknown. As an intervention, the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety program has been delivered as a secondary school incursion in rural and peri-urban communities by the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH). Gear Up for Ag collects a wide range of purposeful data from individual students including their age, farm enterprises, farm tasks performed, and PPE worn. Identifying injury patterns at a community level is needed to develop targeted prevention and health promotion strategies. Therefore a retrospective audit of available hospital datasets, including those burns-related, will be conducted in order to assess the extent of burn injury presentations in the Western District region of Victoria. Existing NCFH data will be utilised to discuss the context in which these injuries may have been sustained. This research seeks to determine correlations between teenagers' presentation to hospital EDs for burns injury and exposures to high level risks hazards on farms (e.g. riding motorbike, welding). The findings will help inform the Australian farming community and professional groups an epidemiological snapshot of farm-related burn injury incidents in young people, and support the development of tailored health promotion and prevention activities delivered by the NCFH. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2138

Name: Dr Jacquie Cotton

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, NCFH

Contact Jacquie

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Amity Dunstan, Associate Professor Alison Kennedy

Project Title: Teens' exposure to hazards on farms and burns presentations: A Gear Up for Ag and hospital dataset analysis

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Western District Health Service - Hamilton

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: Young persons on farms are more likely to engage in farming practices early in life and as a result they make up a significant portion of farm injuries and fatalities. The pattern of burns injuries in young persons on farms is unknown. As an intervention, the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety program has been delivered as a secondary school incursion in rural and peri-urban communities by the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH). Gear Up for Ag collects a wide range of purposeful data from individual students including their age, farm enterprises, farm tasks performed, and PPE worn. Identifying injury patterns at a community level is needed to develop targeted prevention and health promotion strategies. Therefore a retrospective audit of available hospital datasets, including those burns-related, will be conducted in order to assess the extent of burn injury presentations in the Western District region of Victoria. Existing NCFH data will be utilised to discuss the context in which these injuries may have been sustained.

Research Question: This research seeks to determine correlations between teenagers' presentation to hospital EDs for burns injury and exposures to high level risks hazards on farms (e.g. riding motorbike, welding). The findings will help inform the Australian farming community and professional groups an epidemiological snapshot of farm-related burn injury incidents in young people, and support the development of tailored health promotion and prevention activities delivered by the NCFH.

Methods/Analysis: The student will use the Gear Up for Ag Health and Safety data together with available datasets (e.g. BRANZ, RAHDaR, TrakCare) to quantify occurrence and hypothesise the lead causes of burns to teenagers on farms. The student will also develop their cultural knowledge of rural populations, as well as their understanding of the links between the exposure to farm hazards, health and safety interventions (i.e. Gear Up for Ag), and burn recovery due to rural locality and distance to metropolitan health services. This project is subject to low risk HREC approval.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: National Centre For Farmer Health



Contact Jacquie
2139 Kathryn Aston-Mourney A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: Improving Islet Transplantation Success Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. It is characterised by autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells) resulting in the need for insulin injections. New hope for a cure has been given with the development of islet transplantation techniques however currently these require several donors in order to provide enough islets and the long-term success rates are poor with only 10% of transplants still functioning after 5 years. This poor success is due in part to the high amount of stress the islets undergo following the transplant and prior to becoming engrafted. Therefore, the development of techniques to protect the islets from these stressors and improve engraftment would greatly increase not only transplant success but also long-term outcomes. Our lab is developing novel compounds that can protect islets from diabetic conditions. This project will determine whether these can protect transplanted islets and improve transplantation outcomes. Ultimately this project could lead to greatly improving the success of this cure. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2139

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

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Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Richard Williams

Project Title: A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes: Improving Islet Transplantation Success

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children. It is characterised by autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells) resulting in the need for insulin injections. New hope for a cure has been given with the development of islet transplantation techniques however currently these require several donors in order to provide enough islets and the long-term success rates are poor with only 10% of transplants still functioning after 5 years. This poor success is due in part to the high amount of stress the islets undergo following the transplant and prior to becoming engrafted. Therefore, the development of techniques to protect the islets from these stressors and improve engraftment would greatly increase not only transplant success but also long-term outcomes.

Research Question: Our lab is developing novel compounds that can protect islets from diabetic conditions. This project will determine whether these can protect transplanted islets and improve transplantation outcomes. Ultimately this project could lead to greatly improving the success of this cure.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Cell culture -Hydrogel synthesis -Ex vivo culture of pancreatic islets -Analysis of insulin secretion -Analysis of cell death -ELISA -Islet transplants -Immunohistochemistry
The student will also be involved in our large research group and have the opportunity to work with other students and projects.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Kathryn
2140 Kathryn Aston-Mourney In utero metformin treatment to reduce the risk of adult diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin. However, the use of metformin during pregnancy, while becoming increasingly common, is still under debate. The main concern is that metformin can cross the placenta and the effects of this drug on the developing fetus are largely unknown. We have shown that metformin actually increases beta-cell number in developing zebrafish suggesting that it could have beneficial effects to reduce the later development of type 2 diabetes. This project aims to use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on offspring beta-cell number, mass and function and protection from diabetes development in adulthood. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2140

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

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Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Leni Rivera, Dr Bryony McNeil

Project Title: In utero metformin treatment to reduce the risk of adult diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin. However, the use of metformin during pregnancy, while becoming increasingly common, is still under debate. The main concern is that metformin can cross the placenta and the effects of this drug on the developing fetus are largely unknown.

Research Question: We have shown that metformin actually increases beta-cell number in developing zebrafish suggesting that it could have beneficial effects to reduce the later development of type 2 diabetes. This project aims to use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on offspring beta-cell number, mass and function and protection from diabetes development in adulthood.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Pancreatic histology -ELISA -Metabolic phenotyping -Cellular imaging -Statistical analysis
The student will also be involved in our large research group and have the opportunity to work with other students and projects.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Kathryn
2141 Kathryn Aston-Mourney A targeted drug delivery approach for diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we develop therapies targeted to prevent beta-cell failure. However, one of the key limitations in treating beta-cells clinically is that the drugs only reach the beta-cells at low concentrations. Aptamers are small nucleic acid molecules that can specifically bind targets and carry drugs. This could be an excellent method to target beta-cell drug delivery at high concentrations. This project will investigate candidate aptamers for their ability to specifically recognize beta-cells and delivery drugs to beta-cells in an in vivo diabetes model. Ultimately this could provide a mechanism for beta-cell delivery aiding in the development of beta-cell protective therapies as well as other applications such as using for medical imaging of beta-cells for research or optimizing patient treatment. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2141

Name: Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Kathryn

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Sarah Shigdar

Project Title: A targeted drug delivery approach for diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Type 2 diabetes is one of the major health burdens facing the world today with 422 million people affected. Type 2 Diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia due to failure of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas (beta-cells). Beta-cell failure is progressive, with patients requiring additional medications over time and eventually insulin injections in order to control their blood glucose levels. Current diabetes treatments do not stop or slow the progression of beta-cell failure; therefore it is vital that we develop therapies targeted to prevent beta-cell failure. However, one of the key limitations in treating beta-cells clinically is that the drugs only reach the beta-cells at low concentrations. Aptamers are small nucleic acid molecules that can specifically bind targets and carry drugs. This could be an excellent method to target beta-cell drug delivery at high concentrations.

Research Question: This project will investigate candidate aptamers for their ability to specifically recognize beta-cells and delivery drugs to beta-cells in an in vivo diabetes model. Ultimately this could provide a mechanism for beta-cell delivery aiding in the development of beta-cell protective therapies as well as other applications such as using for medical imaging of beta-cells for research or optimizing patient treatment.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Cell culture -Ex vivo culture of pancreatic islets -Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorting (FACS) -Analysis of insulin secretion -Analysis of cell death -ELISA -In vivo metabolic phenotyping -Cellular imaging
The student will also be involved in our large research group and have the opportunity to work with other students and learn from their projects.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Kathryn
2142 Ken Walder Repurposing drugs to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia Neuroscience Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Current treatment options for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are inadequate, and there is an urgent need for new therapies with better efficacy and more favourable side-effect profiles. Development of new drugs takes many years and is very expensive, so an alternative strategy receiving considerable attention is drug repurposing, the process of identifying a new indication for an existing drug. This project will utilise cutting edge cell models derived from induced pluripotent stem cells collected from participants with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and healthy, matched controls, along with state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to repurpose drugs to treat these disorders. Drug discovery for mental health disorders is at a virtual standstill, and new treatments are urgently required. In this project we will test the hypothesis that stem cell models and molecular biology can be used to repurpose drugs for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The aim of the project is to repurpose a drug for one of these disorders such that the drug is ready to progress to clinical testing in patients. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2142

Name: Professor Ken Walder

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Ken

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bruna Panizzutti, Dr Zoe Liu

Project Title: Repurposing drugs to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Current treatment options for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are inadequate, and there is an urgent need for new therapies with better efficacy and more favourable side-effect profiles. Development of new drugs takes many years and is very expensive, so an alternative strategy receiving considerable attention is drug repurposing, the process of identifying a new indication for an existing drug. This project will utilise cutting edge cell models derived from induced pluripotent stem cells collected from participants with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and healthy, matched controls, along with state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to repurpose drugs to treat these disorders.

Research Question: Drug discovery for mental health disorders is at a virtual standstill, and new treatments are urgently required. In this project we will test the hypothesis that stem cell models and molecular biology can be used to repurpose drugs for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The aim of the project is to repurpose a drug for one of these disorders such that the drug is ready to progress to clinical testing in patients.

Methods/Analysis: Cell culture (induced pluripotent stem cells derived from participants with a mental health disorder or healthy controls), next generation sequencing (transcriptomics), real time PCR, immunocytochemistry, drug screening (in silico and in vitro), pharmacoepidemiology, mendelian randomisation

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Ken
2143 Zoe Liu Determining lithium's effects on mitochondrial function in bipolar disorder stem cells Neuroscience Waurn Ponds Campus PhD People with bipolar disorder have a high death rate by suicide and self-harm. Lithium is commonly prescribed to minimise bipolar disorder symptoms effectively. However, lithium is only fully effective in 20% of the patients and its molecular mechanisms remain unknown. Studies have shown that bipolar disorder is partly due to dysregulated adenosine triphosphate (energy) generation machinery and lithium could have positive impact on mitochondria-related genes. Mitochondria are essential for cellular energy production, but their role in bipolar disorder and how their function will be affected by lithium treatment have not been determined. We have human pluripotent stem cells transformed from the white blood cells collected from people with bipolar disorder. The aim is to differentiate the stem cells into co-cultures containing neurons and astrocytes, and measure mitochondrial function after lithium treatment. We hypothesise that cells from people with bipolar disorder will show impaired mitochondrial function, but lithium treatment will restore energy production in lithium responders more so than the non-responders. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2143

Name: Dr Zoe Liu

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Zoe

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Ken Walder

Project Title: Determining lithium's effects on mitochondrial function in bipolar disorder stem cells

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: People with bipolar disorder have a high death rate by suicide and self-harm. Lithium is commonly prescribed to minimise bipolar disorder symptoms effectively. However, lithium is only fully effective in 20% of the patients and its molecular mechanisms remain unknown. Studies have shown that bipolar disorder is partly due to dysregulated adenosine triphosphate (energy) generation machinery and lithium could have positive impact on mitochondria-related genes. Mitochondria are essential for cellular energy production, but their role in bipolar disorder and how their function will be affected by lithium treatment have not been determined.

Research Question: We have human pluripotent stem cells transformed from the white blood cells collected from people with bipolar disorder. The aim is to differentiate the stem cells into co-cultures containing neurons and astrocytes, and measure mitochondrial function after lithium treatment. We hypothesise that cells from people with bipolar disorder will show impaired mitochondrial function, but lithium treatment will restore energy production in lithium responders more so than the non-responders.

Methods/Analysis: The student will receive extensive training on daily maintenance of cell culture, stem cell differentiation into neuronal co-cultures, immunocytochemistry, RNA extraction, gene expression and cDNA quantification, a range of bioassays measuring mitochondrial function and inflammation, and statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Zoe
2144 Bruna Panizzutti Parry Characterising inflammation in stem cell-derived microglia from participants with bipolar disorder Neuroscience Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Alterations in multiple biological systems have been observed in people with bipolar disorder, with immune dysfunction recognised as an important mechanism. Inflammatory and immunity-related mechanisms have been investigated to understand their contribution to disease progression and treatment effectiveness. In the central nervous system, microglial cells perform various functions such as phagocytosing apoptotic neurons, inducing neuronal apoptosis, synaptic pruning, synapse formation, promoting pyramidal neuron survival, regulating receptor expression at synapses, controlling the production and migration of cortical inhibitory neurons, inflammatory response. Microglial cells can be polarised into M1 (pro-inflammatory) or M2 (anti-inflammatory) phenotypes responding to different cytokines. Activation of microglia and neuroinflammation have been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Overall, the project aims to build upon the existing knowledge to understand further how the role of immune dysregulation and microglial activation in bipolar disorder differs from healthy participants: 1) Generate and characterise microglial cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from research participants with bipolar disorder and healthy controls. 2) Study how the two groups' inflammatory responses driven by microglial cells differ. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2144

Name: Dr Bruna Panizzutti Parry

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Bruna

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Ken Walder

Project Title: Characterising inflammation in stem cell-derived microglia from participants with bipolar disorder

Research Area: Neuroscience

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Alterations in multiple biological systems have been observed in people with bipolar disorder, with immune dysfunction recognised as an important mechanism. Inflammatory and immunity-related mechanisms have been investigated to understand their contribution to disease progression and treatment effectiveness. In the central nervous system, microglial cells perform various functions such as phagocytosing apoptotic neurons, inducing neuronal apoptosis, synaptic pruning, synapse formation, promoting pyramidal neuron survival, regulating receptor expression at synapses, controlling the production and migration of cortical inhibitory neurons, inflammatory response. Microglial cells can be polarised into M1 (pro-inflammatory) or M2 (anti-inflammatory) phenotypes responding to different cytokines. Activation of microglia and neuroinflammation have been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Research Question: Overall, the project aims to build upon the existing knowledge to understand further how the role of immune dysregulation and microglial activation in bipolar disorder differs from healthy participants: 1) Generate and characterise microglial cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from research participants with bipolar disorder and healthy controls. 2) Study how the two groups' inflammatory responses driven by microglial cells differ.

Methods/Analysis: This project will primarily involve tissue culture (specific differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells into microglial cells), qPCR (gene expression), immunocytochemistry, plate-based assays (ELISAs), RNA extraction, and Cells Phagocytosis and Motility assays.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Bruna
2145 Laura Gray Experiences of students with a disability, chronic health condition or neurodivergence in the clinic Medical Education Flexible location MPhil PhD Improving access to medical studies for students with a disability, chronic health condition or neurodivergence is a priority for medical schools. Medical schools can promote an inclusive learning environment through the provision of appropriate adjustments or accommodations for learning and assessment. However, although University disability support services have significant expertise in supporting students in the on-campus learning environment, much less is known about how best to support students while on clinical placements. Furthermore, many medical students with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and/or neurodivergence do not disclose this to their medical school or seek accommodations due to fear of discrimination and possible negative impacts for their future employability. A deeper insight into lived experiences increase our understanding of the accommodations required by students, and the factors which promote or prevent disclosure of their circumstances. The aim of this study is to explore the lived experiences of recent medical graduates who identify as having a disability, chronic health condition, and/or neurodiversity to better understand the barriers and facilitators to their learning in the clinical environment. Improved knowledge of these factors will enable medical schools to provide a more inclusive learning environment, promoting improved academic performance and student wellbeing. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2145

Name: Associate Professor Laura Gray

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine

Contact Laura

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bryony McNeill, Associate Professor Janet McLeod

Project Title: Experiences of students with a disability, chronic health condition or neurodivergence in the clinic

Research Area: Medical Education

Location: Flexible location

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Improving access to medical studies for students with a disability, chronic health condition or neurodivergence is a priority for medical schools. Medical schools can promote an inclusive learning environment through the provision of appropriate adjustments or accommodations for learning and assessment. However, although University disability support services have significant expertise in supporting students in the on-campus learning environment, much less is known about how best to support students while on clinical placements. Furthermore, many medical students with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and/or neurodivergence do not disclose this to their medical school or seek accommodations due to fear of discrimination and possible negative impacts for their future employability. A deeper insight into lived experiences increase our understanding of the accommodations required by students, and the factors which promote or prevent disclosure of their circumstances.

Research Question: The aim of this study is to explore the lived experiences of recent medical graduates who identify as having a disability, chronic health condition, and/or neurodiversity to better understand the barriers and facilitators to their learning in the clinical environment. Improved knowledge of these factors will enable medical schools to provide a more inclusive learning environment, promoting improved academic performance and student wellbeing.

Methods/Analysis: This study will take a qualitative approach, involving semi-structured interviews with students and graduates of the medical program. Data will be analysed using appropriate theoretical frameworks and an interpretive design which will enable an in-depth analysis of the lived experiences of medical students.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Laura
2146 Laura Gray Access and equity in Health Professions education Medical Education Flexible location MPhil PhD As marginalised communities continue to experience significantly higher rates of chronic disease and mortality, the demand for more health professionals who understand the needs of these communities is urgent and growing. However, students from marginalised or underrepresented groups face barriers in their access to health professions programs, and challenges as they navigate the training process. Many health professions programs aspire to address these inequities. In order to effect meaningful change, we need a better understanding of the perspectives of current students and how they have experienced the learning activities and support systems offered to date. We also need to explore the perspectives of potential applicants to health professions programs, to identify barriers and enablers to access. What are the perspectives of potential applicants to health professions programs from marginalised or underrepresented groups, and what factors shape their experiences as they navigate the admissions process? What are the experiences of students from marginalised or underrepresented groups as they progress through health professions programs, and how can Universities better support these students? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2146

Name: Associate Professor Laura Gray

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine

Contact Laura

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bryony McNeill

Project Title: Access and equity in Health Professions education

Research Area: Medical Education

Location: Flexible location

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: As marginalised communities continue to experience significantly higher rates of chronic disease and mortality, the demand for more health professionals who understand the needs of these communities is urgent and growing. However, students from marginalised or underrepresented groups face barriers in their access to health professions programs, and challenges as they navigate the training process. Many health professions programs aspire to address these inequities. In order to effect meaningful change, we need a better understanding of the perspectives of current students and how they have experienced the learning activities and support systems offered to date. We also need to explore the perspectives of potential applicants to health professions programs, to identify barriers and enablers to access.

Research Question: What are the perspectives of potential applicants to health professions programs from marginalised or underrepresented groups, and what factors shape their experiences as they navigate the admissions process? What are the experiences of students from marginalised or underrepresented groups as they progress through health professions programs, and how can Universities better support these students?

Methods/Analysis: A mixed methods approach will be undertaken. The use of a semi-structured focus group/interview format will allow the researchers to gather deep information regarding participant experiences. Quantitative information regarding demographic and ethnographic patterns, as well as study and career trajectories will be collected in parallel. The research team will be using an interpretive phenomenological framework for the research, involving exploratory analysis of a small number of participants.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



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2147 Laura Gray Seeking a flexible approach to health professions learning Medical Education Flexible location MPhil PhD The MD program at Deakin aspires to be more responsive to the needs of medical students, balancing flexibility in the way in which the course is offered with the need for effective delivery of learning activities. Pilot programs have introduced more activities which involve online learning and reduced numbers of hours on campus. However in order to meet students' needs, we need a better understanding of the perspectives of current students and how they have experienced the learning activities offered to date. This project seeks to explore the experiences of health professions students learning in a hybrid (online and located) environment, and identify factors that may promote or hinder engagement in learning activities. How do students with differing personal circumstances engage in learning and how can health professions students best support their progression? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2147

Name: Associate Professor Laura Gray

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine

Contact Laura

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Bryony McNeill, Dr Jemma Skeat

Project Title: Seeking a flexible approach to health professions learning

Research Area: Medical Education

Location: Flexible location

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: The MD program at Deakin aspires to be more responsive to the needs of medical students, balancing flexibility in the way in which the course is offered with the need for effective delivery of learning activities. Pilot programs have introduced more activities which involve online learning and reduced numbers of hours on campus. However in order to meet students' needs, we need a better understanding of the perspectives of current students and how they have experienced the learning activities offered to date.

Research Question: This project seeks to explore the experiences of health professions students learning in a hybrid (online and located) environment, and identify factors that may promote or hinder engagement in learning activities. How do students with differing personal circumstances engage in learning and how can health professions students best support their progression?

Methods/Analysis: The use of a semi-structured focus group/interview format will allow the researchers to gather deep information regarding participant experiences. Interviews will be conducted with individual participants, and focus groups will be conducted with groups of up to 15 students. The research team will be using an interpretive phenomenological framework for the research, which calls for deep exploratory analysis of a small number of participants.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Laura
2148 Olivia Dean The placebo effect in psychiatric clinical trials Psychiatry Barwon Health - Geelong PhD By providing crucial evidence on effectiveness and side effects, clinical trials are an all-important step in getting new, helpful medical treatments into actual use. But what happens if aspects of this trial process make it hard for researchers to measure a beneficial effect? Clinical trials, and particularly those in psychiatry, have been hindered by a rise in the placebo response, whereby people receiving a placebo control (rather than active treatment) still improve because of the concerted attention of staff during a clinical trial - masking the effects of an otherwise beneficial treatment. The problem is that the placebo itself cannot be prescribed as an ongoing therapeutic tool: the effect wanes once a trial is completed, and in the real world, it is unfortunately neither feasible nor affordable to recreate the same level of personal attention. So are we missing out on promising compounds because trial data cannot demonstrate their benefits? This project addresses an important need across diverse diseases (psychiatric and beyond) and drugs: exploring ways to reduce the placebo effect within randomised placebo controlled trials. It will sit within supportive broader groups including CREDIT, The Centre of Research Excellence for the Development of Innovative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2148

Name: Associate Professor Olivia Dean

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Olivia

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Alyna Turner

Project Title: The placebo effect in psychiatric clinical trials

Research Area: Psychiatry

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: By providing crucial evidence on effectiveness and side effects, clinical trials are an all-important step in getting new, helpful medical treatments into actual use. But what happens if aspects of this trial process make it hard for researchers to measure a beneficial effect? Clinical trials, and particularly those in psychiatry, have been hindered by a rise in the placebo response, whereby people receiving a placebo control (rather than active treatment) still improve because of the concerted attention of staff during a clinical trial - masking the effects of an otherwise beneficial treatment. The problem is that the placebo itself cannot be prescribed as an ongoing therapeutic tool: the effect wanes once a trial is completed, and in the real world, it is unfortunately neither feasible nor affordable to recreate the same level of personal attention.

Research Question: So are we missing out on promising compounds because trial data cannot demonstrate their benefits? This project addresses an important need across diverse diseases (psychiatric and beyond) and drugs: exploring ways to reduce the placebo effect within randomised placebo controlled trials. It will sit within supportive broader groups including CREDIT, The Centre of Research Excellence for the Development of Innovative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders.

Methods/Analysis: This project will require the student to run an intervention with human participants to determine if education can change the placebo effect in people experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome has been selected as there is evidence of the placebo effect in people experiencing symptoms, even when they're aware they're taking a placebo. The student will explore the outcomes of the intervention in relation to physical and psychiatric outcomes.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: About IMPACT Trials<



Contact Olivia
2149 Damian Hernandez Development of human pluripotent stem cell model of chronic fatigue syndrome for drug discovery Stem Cell Research Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating chronic disease characterized by severe fatigue exacerbated by physical or mental activity. It affects approximately 5-6% of the population, and the lack of effective treatments is attributed to our limited understanding of its underlying pathophysiology. While ME/CFS is commonly classified as a neurological disorder due to its neurological symptoms, many other clinical manifestations, such as impaired muscle function, cannot be adequately explained solely by neurological pathology. To bridge this knowledge gap and gain deeper insights into the cellular mechanisms driving the disease, we are currently establishing a biobank of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from both ME/CFS patients and healthy individuals. We hypothesize that ME/CFS is associated with an energy imbalance, particularly in skeletal muscle cells. The research project aims to answer the following questions:1) Can iPSCs from ME/CFS patients and healthy individuals be differentiated into functional skeletal muscle cells? 2) What are the transcriptomic differences between iPSC-derived skeletal muscle cells from ME/CFS patients and healthy controls? 3) What drugs could be repurposed to treat ME/CSF patients? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2149

Name: Dr Damian Hernandez

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Damian

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Ken Walder

Project Title: Development of human pluripotent stem cell model of chronic fatigue syndrome for drug discovery

Research Area: Stem Cell Research

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating chronic disease characterized by severe fatigue exacerbated by physical or mental activity. It affects approximately 5-6% of the population, and the lack of effective treatments is attributed to our limited understanding of its underlying pathophysiology. While ME/CFS is commonly classified as a neurological disorder due to its neurological symptoms, many other clinical manifestations, such as impaired muscle function, cannot be adequately explained solely by neurological pathology. To bridge this knowledge gap and gain deeper insights into the cellular mechanisms driving the disease, we are currently establishing a biobank of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from both ME/CFS patients and healthy individuals.

Research Question: We hypothesize that ME/CFS is associated with an energy imbalance, particularly in skeletal muscle cells. The research project aims to answer the following questions:1) Can iPSCs from ME/CFS patients and healthy individuals be differentiated into functional skeletal muscle cells? 2) What are the transcriptomic differences between iPSC-derived skeletal muscle cells from ME/CFS patients and healthy controls? 3) What drugs could be repurposed to treat ME/CSF patients?

Methods/Analysis: Day-to-day activities will include cell culture, differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into skeletal muscle cells, next-generation sequencing, transcriptomic analysis, metabolomics, bioinformatics, and a range of bioassays measuring mitochondrial function, oxidative stress, and inflammation.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Damian
2150 Tania de Koning-Ward Identifying how extracellular vesicles are generated from red blood cells infected with Plasmodium Infection Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, resulting in ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. To promote their growth, and evade the host immune response, to manipulate their host environment and communicate with each other, intracellular Plasmodium parasites release extracellular vesicles (EVs) from the RBC. Elevated EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. However, it is an enigma how EVs are generated and transported within Plasmodium infected RBC to facilitate secretion of parasite antigens as these parasites lack most of the endomembrane trafficking machinery found in higher eukaryotes. In this project, the contribution of several components of the Plasmodium falciparum endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite transmission and parasite survival. Which components of the endosomal trafficking machinery contribute to EV formation? Aim 1: Epitope tag and knockout out the expression of Plasmodium falciparum genes encoding components of the endosomal trafficking machinery using reverse genetics. Aim 2: Using these engineered parasites to assess localisation and interacting partners of the component in the infected RBC and the affect on EV production and parasite survival. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2150

Name: Professor Tania de Koning-Ward

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Tania

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Natalie Counihan

Project Title: Identifying how extracellular vesicles are generated from red blood cells infected with Plasmodium

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Malaria is caused by infection of red blood cells (RBCs) by Plasmodium parasites, resulting in ~400,000 deaths and ~216 million infections each year. To promote their growth, and evade the host immune response, to manipulate their host environment and communicate with each other, intracellular Plasmodium parasites release extracellular vesicles (EVs) from the RBC. Elevated EVs in the plasma are associated with severe malaria disease. However, it is an enigma how EVs are generated and transported within Plasmodium infected RBC to facilitate secretion of parasite antigens as these parasites lack most of the endomembrane trafficking machinery found in higher eukaryotes. In this project, the contribution of several components of the Plasmodium falciparum endosomal trafficking machinery will be characterised for their essentiality to EV formation, parasite transmission and parasite survival.

Research Question: Which components of the endosomal trafficking machinery contribute to EV formation? Aim 1: Epitope tag and knockout out the expression of Plasmodium falciparum genes encoding components of the endosomal trafficking machinery using reverse genetics. Aim 2: Using these engineered parasites to assess localisation and interacting partners of the component in the infected RBC and the effect on EV production and parasite survival.

Methods/Analysis: This project will provide students with a broad skills base that covers molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry. Genetic engineering of malaria parasites using CRISPR/Cas9 DNA - involves generation of molecular constructs (PCR, cloning, sequencing), parasite transfection, in vitro culturing of malaria parasites and analysis of transfectants (PCR, western blotting, immunofluorescence analysis). Biochemical techniques will be used to study EVs and interacting partners of these proteins.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Tania

Video Presentation
2151 Leni Rivera Improving gut health in metabolic disorders Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD A traditional whole-food diet consists of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, wholegrains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods. Currently, in both developed and emerging economies, there is a preference to consume nutrient-poor, energy-dense, and highly processed foods. Many people are both overfed and undernourished. This transition from traditional to the modern diet has seen increases in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and other metabolic diseases. The first vulnerable organ to encounter these substances is the intestine. There is now increasing recognition that intestinal damage contributes to downstream effects. This project aims: -To determine how specific components of the modern diet affects enteric neurons, mucosal structure, and function in vitro. -To investigate the beneficial effects of dietary modification and supplementation in improving gut health and gut barrier function. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2151

Name: Dr Leni Rivera

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Leni

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Bryony McNeill

Project Title: Improving gut health in metabolic disorders

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: A traditional whole-food diet consists of higher intakes of foods such as vegetables, fruits, seafood, wholegrains, lean meat, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods. Currently, in both developed and emerging economies, there is a preference to consume nutrient-poor, energy-dense, and highly processed foods. Many people are both overfed and undernourished. This transition from traditional to the modern diet has seen increases in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and other metabolic diseases. The first vulnerable organ to encounter these substances is the intestine. There is now increasing recognition that intestinal damage contributes to downstream effects.

Research Question: This project aims: -To determine how specific components of the modern diet affects enteric neurons, mucosal structure, and function in vitro. -To investigate the beneficial effects of dietary modification and supplementation in improving gut health and gut barrier function.

Methods/Analysis: This project, using a mouse model, will involve: -Comprehensive analysis of metabolic health -Cell culture -Molecular analysis -Gut physiology including measuring gut leakiness -Histological and immunohistochemical analysis to determine changes in gut morphology and other organs -Analysis of gut microbiota

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Leni
2152 Leni Rivera Effect of metformin on gut microbiome in gestational diabetes Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin, and this drug is being used more widely to treat gestational diabetes. One of effects metformin treatment has is to alter the gut microbiome, which may be beneficial for diabetes management. However, as offspring develop their microbiomes from their mother during birth, an altered microbiome may translate to changes in the offspring microbiome thereby altering their susceptibility or resilience to a wide range of diseases, including diabetes. This project aims: -To use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on maternal gut microbiome, enteric neurons, mucosal structure and gut function. -To determine whether maternal metformin treatment will result in differences in the gut microbiome, enteric neurons, mucosal structure and gut function of the offspring. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2152

Name: Dr Leni Rivera

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Leni

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Bryony McNeill

Project Title: Effect of metformin on gut microbiome in gestational diabetes

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, is becoming increasingly prevalent. Gestational Diabetes increases the risks of adverse effects during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, large for gestational age offspring and fetal abnormalities. Poor glucose control during pregnancy also increases the risk for adult obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring. Therefore, effectively treating gestational diabetes is of utmost importance. One of the most effective pharmaceuticals to manage blood glucose is the type 2 diabetes drug metformin, and this drug is being used more widely to treat gestational diabetes. One of effects metformin treatment has is to alter the gut microbiome, which may be beneficial for diabetes management. However, as offspring develop their microbiomes from their mother during birth, an altered microbiome may translate to changes in the offspring microbiome thereby altering their susceptibility or resilience to a wide range of diseases, including diabetes.

Research Question: This project aims: -To use a mouse model to determine the effect of maternal metformin treatment on maternal gut microbiome, enteric neurons, mucosal structure and gut function. -To determine whether maternal metformin treatment will result in differences in the gut microbiome, enteric neurons, mucosal structure and gut function of the offspring.

Methods/Analysis: Summary of techniques to be used: -Bacterial DNA extraction -Next Generation Sequencing -Microbiome analysis -Gut permeability measurement -Histological and immunohistochemical analysis to determine changes in gut morphology and other organs -ELISA -Western blotting -Real-time PCR -Statistical analysis

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Leni
2153 Luba Sominsky Lifestyle determinants of early life development Immunity Barwon Health - Geelong MPhil PhD Maternal health before and during pregnancy, including mental health status, physical activity and dietary habits, are all known to play an important role in health and development of children. However, the biological pathways that underlie these associations are complex and often unclear. Emerging evidence highlights the role of inflammation experienced in utero on a range of adverse developmental outcomes, including allergic diseases and neurodevelopmental conditions. This project will investigate the associations between maternal lifestyle behaviours, maternal and infant inflammation, and child development. The outcomes of these project will inform the field of developmental origins of health and disease and guide the development of preventive interventions for developmental conditions. 1. Determine associations between maternal lifestyle behaviours (including physical activity, perinatal stress, depression, diet and other lifestyle factors) with the development of allergic and neurodevelopmental diseases in their children. 2. Determine longitudinal associations between maternal and infant inflammation 3. Determine if maternal and infant inflammatory markers mediate the relationship between maternal lifestyle behaviours during pregnancy and child health outcomes Full Project Information

Project ID: 2153

Name: Dr Luba Sominsky

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Luba

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Poshmaal Dhar

Project Title: Lifestyle determinants of early life development

Research Area: Immunity

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Maternal health before and during pregnancy, including mental health status, physical activity and dietary habits, are all known to play an important role in health and development of children. However, the biological pathways that underlie these associations are complex and often unclear. Emerging evidence highlights the role of inflammation experienced in utero on a range of adverse developmental outcomes, including allergic diseases and neurodevelopmental conditions. This project will investigate the associations between maternal lifestyle behaviours, maternal and infant inflammation, and child development. The outcomes of these project will inform the field of developmental origins of health and disease and guide the development of preventive interventions for developmental conditions.

Research Question: 1. Determine associations between maternal lifestyle behaviours (including physical activity, perinatal stress, depression, diet and other lifestyle factors) with the development of allergic and neurodevelopmental diseases in their children. 2. Determine longitudinal associations between maternal and infant inflammation 3. Determine if maternal and infant inflammatory markers mediate the relationship between maternal lifestyle behaviours during pregnancy and child health outcomes

Methods/Analysis: The candidate will work with existing samples and datasets from a large birth cohort study (the Barwon Infant Study) to investigate the associations between in utero exposures, developmental outcomes and biological mechanisms. They will acquire skills in epidemiological and biostatistical techniques for assessing evidence of causality within observational data, as well as skills in laboratory techniques, including sample processing and immunoassays.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Luba
2154 Tamara Browne Bioethical or sociological issues related to gender Bioethics and Professionalism Can be done online MPhil PhD According to recent systematic reviews, neuroscientific studies have failed to provide sound evidence that people are born with a male brain or a female brain that explains the psychological and behavioural gender differences we see. With a world largely divided on gender lines, this insight has implications for a number of areas such as bioethics. The student may choose to investigate such implications or may choose another topic related to gender issues in bioethics. Examples of topics include ethical and sociological issues related to the treatment of transgender, queer or intersex people in medicine, the ethics of gendered parenting or methods for achieving gender equity in healthcare. The student will conduct a review of the literature in their chosen topic which will help them decide on a research question. With consultation, the student will also articulate the study's aims and hypothesis. The mode of investigation will depend on the most appropriate method to answer the research question. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2154

Name: Dr Tamara Browne

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine

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Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Tiia Sudenkaarne

Project Title: Bioethical or sociological issues related to gender

Research Area: Bioethics and Professionalism

Location: Can be done online

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: According to recent systematic reviews, neuroscientific studies have failed to provide sound evidence that people are born with a male brain or a female brain that explains the psychological and behavioural gender differences we see. With a world largely divided on gender lines, this insight has implications for a number of areas such as bioethics. The student may choose to investigate such implications or may choose another topic related to gender issues in bioethics. Examples of topics include ethical and sociological issues related to the treatment of transgender, queer or intersex people in medicine, the ethics of gendered parenting or methods for achieving gender equity in healthcare.

Research Question: The student will conduct a review of the literature in their chosen topic which will help them decide on a research question. With consultation, the student will also articulate the study's aims and hypothesis. The mode of investigation will depend on the most appropriate method to answer the research question.

Methods/Analysis: The methods used by the student will depend on the research question. I can supervise projects which use theoretical/philosophical methods, or projects using qualitative methods. Theoretical/philosophical methods would involve literature searches, reading and critical analysis.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Video Presentation



Contact Tamara

Video Presentation
2155 Olivia Dean Examining symptoms of anxiety and biological markers of inflammation in depression Biological Psychiatry Barwon Health - Geelong PhD A proportion of patients diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders exhibit disturbances in immune activation, as measured by increased peripheral and central inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory mediators, metabolites and acute phase reactants. It has been suggested that patients with perturbed inflammation are more likely to experience treatment-resistant depression, and might be more or less likely to respond to certain treatments. Moreover, both anxious symptoms and comorbid anxiety disorders (particularly generalized anxiety disorder) have been found to be predict lower rates of response and remission in depression. The nature of the relationship between anxiety symptoms and biological factors, and whether or not they can be used for prognostic or theragnostic purposes remains unclear. The overarching aim of this research project is to investigate how symptoms of anxiety, as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), and/or a comorbid diagnosis of anxiety-like disorder may relate to peripheral biological markers of inflammation and treatment response in participants experiencing a current episode of depression. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2155

Name: Associate Professor Olivia Dean

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Olivia

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Adam Walker

Project Title: Examining symptoms of anxiety and biological markers of inflammation in depression

Research Area: Biological Psychiatry

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: A proportion of patients diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders exhibit disturbances in immune activation, as measured by increased peripheral and central inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory mediators, metabolites and acute phase reactants. It has been suggested that patients with perturbed inflammation are more likely to experience treatment-resistant depression, and might be more or less likely to respond to certain treatments. Moreover, both anxious symptoms and comorbid anxiety disorders (particularly generalized anxiety disorder) have been found to be predict lower rates of response and remission in depression. The nature of the relationship between anxiety symptoms and biological factors, and whether or not they can be used for prognostic or theragnostic purposes remains unclear.

Research Question: The overarching aim of this research project is to investigate how symptoms of anxiety, as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), and/or a comorbid diagnosis of anxiety-like disorder may relate to peripheral biological markers of inflammation and treatment response in participants experiencing a current episode of depression.

Methods/Analysis: The student will be required to familiarise themselves with relevant scientific literature, handle clinical and biochemical datasets, engage in data management and cleaning, utilise statistical software to assess mediation and effect modification, and explore the relationship between clinical outcomes and inflammatory profile, and employ critical thinking to assess the resultant outcomes of this project.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposire involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: About IMPACT Trials<



Contact Olivia
2156 Richard Williams Epigenetics of chronic wound healing mediated by hydrogels in skin model Infection Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Chronic wounds such as infectious ulcers (e.g., Buruli ulcers) are emerging global health issues. Owing to their hydration properties and sustained therapeutic release potential of hydrogels, next generation functionalised hydrogels are being assessed as treatment alternative for chronic skin wounds. Proliferation, migration, and/or differentiation of several cell types, including immune cells, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, promote skin wound healing in case of chronic infections. These cellular processes are stringently controlled by the interplay of cell signalling pathways, transcription factors and epigenetic regulators. Understanding these molecular and cellular mechanisms after the hydrogel treatment is important and of interest for improving the chronic wound management. The project will investigate changes in: 1. chromatin organisation and epigenetic regulation of gene expressions in immune cells, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, 2. histone modification and 3. ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling in case of infectious wounds on treatment with functionalised hydrogels. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2156

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Ayushi Priyam

Project Title: Epigenetics of chronic wound healing mediated by hydrogels in skin model

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Chronic wounds such as infectious ulcers (e.g., Buruli ulcers) are emerging global health issues. Owing to their hydration properties and sustained therapeutic release potential of hydrogels, next generation functionalised hydrogels are being assessed as treatment alternative for chronic skin wounds. Proliferation, migration, and/or differentiation of several cell types, including immune cells, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, promote skin wound healing in case of chronic infections. These cellular processes are stringently controlled by the interplay of cell signalling pathways, transcription factors and epigenetic regulators. Understanding these molecular and cellular mechanisms after the hydrogel treatment is important and of interest for improving the chronic wound management.

Research Question: The project will investigate changes in: 1. chromatin organisation and epigenetic regulation of gene expressions in immune cells, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts, 2. histone modification and 3. ATP-dependent chromatin remodelling in case of infectious wounds on treatment with functionalised hydrogels.

Methods/Analysis: Developing simulated skin wound models, cell culturing (HDF, L929, HaCaT, J774), biochemical assays, molecular biology (protein/RNA/DNA isolation, RNA Seq, PCR, qPCR and western blotting), microscopy - confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, and statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Richard
2157 Richard Williams Host-pathogen interaction and involvement of haematopoietic factors in wound healing by hydrogels Infection Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Bacterial invasions are hallmark of infectious chronic ulcers such as Buruli ulcers. In these infectious ulcers, the skin physiology undergoes changes due to bacterial invasion. This external pathogen intervention can influence the interaction between our skin microbiota and cells. In addition, there is an interplay between the status of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and wound healing. There is significant research gap between host-pathogen interaction, inflammation and the resulting cell-intrinsic and-extrinsic mechanisms that can impact HSC functions in the context of wound healing. Further, use of biomaterials for antimicrobial delivery to treat infectious disease can influence the multi-interactions between external pathogens, native skin microbiota, skin cells and HSCs. This is an unexplored research area and is of interest to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of such interactions. This project will investigate the chronic signals from external pathogens, native skin microbiota, skin cells and HSCs under chronic inflammation. Key mediators of chronic signal pathways such as TLR4, interleukins, SMADs, MAPK, JAK-STAT will be monitored for upregulation or downregulation. Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2157

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Ayushi Priyam

Project Title: Host-pathogen interaction and involvement of haematopoietic factors in wound healing by hydrogels

Research Area: Infection

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Bacterial invasions are hallmark of infectious chronic ulcers such as Buruli ulcers. In these infectious ulcers, the skin physiology undergoes changes due to bacterial invasion. This external pathogen intervention can influence the interaction between our skin microbiota and cells. In addition, there is an interplay between the status of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and wound healing. There is significant research gap between host-pathogen interaction, inflammation and the resulting cell-intrinsic and-extrinsic mechanisms that can impact HSC functions in the context of wound healing. Further, use of biomaterials for antimicrobial delivery to treat infectious disease can influence the multi-interactions between external pathogens, native skin microbiota, skin cells and HSCs. This is an unexplored research area and is of interest to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of such interactions.

Research Question: This project will investigate the chronic signals from external pathogens, native skin microbiota, skin cells and HSCs under chronic inflammation. Key mediators of chronic signal pathways such as TLR4, interleukins, SMADs, MAPK, JAK-STAT will be monitored for upregulation or downregulation.

Methods/Analysis: Developing simulated skin wound models, bacterial culturing (E. coli and S. aureus), cell culturing (HDF, L929, HaCaT, J774), biochemical assays, molecular biology (protein/RNA/DNA isolation, RNA Seq, PCR, qPCR and western blotting), microscopy - confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, and statistical analyses.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Richard
2158 Eugene Athan Biofilms role in S. aureus disease Infection Barwon Health - Geelong MPhil PhD S. aureus is a Gram-positive bacteria that killed over 1 million people in 2019 alone. The species is known for its diverse range of pathogenic mechanisms. One mechanism is the formation of biofilms, that not all strains of the species can do. The utility of expressing biofilms in a clinical infection is currently unknown but is associated with a range of presentations including joint infections, bone infections and catheter related infections. Preliminary data has found that in vitro biofilm abilities are associated with complications in bloodstream infections. It is unknown what genes are being expressed in clinical biofilm formers. What role do biofilms play in bloodstream infections? - Does the ability for a clinical isolate of Staphylococcus aureus to form a biofilm, affect the severity of disease? - Are common genes expressed during biofilm formation and maturation that affect severity of disease? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2158

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Darcie Cooper, Dr Carly Botheras

Project Title: Biofilms role in S. aureus disease

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: S. aureus is a Gram-positive bacteria that killed over 1 million people in 2019 alone. The species is known for its diverse range of pathogenic mechanisms. One mechanism is the formation of biofilms, that not all strains of the species can do. The utility of expressing biofilms in a clinical infection is currently unknown but is associated with a range of presentations including joint infections, bone infections and catheter related infections. Preliminary data has found that in vitro biofilm abilities are associated with complications in bloodstream infections. It is unknown what genes are being expressed in clinical biofilm formers.

Research Question: What role do biofilms play in bloodstream infections? - Does the ability for a clinical isolate of Staphylococcus aureus to form a biofilm, affect the severity of disease? - Are common genes expressed during biofilm formation and maturation that affect severity of disease?

Methods/Analysis: Biofilm growth experiments. Maintaining bacterial reference stains and clinical bacterial strains. RT-PCR experiments. Optimisation of protocol for RNA extraction from biofilm supernatant and biofilm. Preparation and designing of primers, etc. Clinical data & epidemiology. Collation of demographic data of patients with clinical bacterial isolates.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2159 Clifford Liongue Investigating innate immune cells and their regulation using customised animal models Immunity Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Pathogens represent a constant challenge to maintaining health, with the first line of defence being the innate immune system. Key components of this system are the white blood cells called neutrophils and macrophages. Neutrophils are the "first-responders' and serve to "seek and destroy' pathogens by a variety of mechanisms, typically dying in the process. Macrophages, on the other hand, arrive later and carry out a range of functions, including phagocytosis and coordination of an appropriate immune response. Neutrophils and macrophages are controlled by a network of cytokines, which represent key mediators of cell to cell communication, such as from an infected cell to a neutrophil or macrophage or from a macrophage to other immune cells. Zebrafish represents a powerful experimental model for understanding development and disease, due to its similarities with mammalian immune systems, which has been used to better understand the immune system and its responses to pathogens. We have created a series of customised zebrafish lines where the cytokine signalling components have been modified to be either more or less activated using genome editing technologies. The aim of this project is to investigate the regulation of neutrophil and macrophage functions by cytokine signalling components using these zebrafish lines. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2159

Name: Dr Clifford Liongue

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Clifford

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Alister Ward

Project Title: Investigating innate immune cells and their regulation using customised animal models

Research Area: Immunity

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Pathogens represent a constant challenge to maintaining health, with the first line of defence being the innate immune system. Key components of this system are the white blood cells called neutrophils and macrophages. Neutrophils are the "first-responders' and serve to "seek and destroy' pathogens by a variety of mechanisms, typically dying in the process. Macrophages, on the other hand, arrive later and carry out a range of functions, including phagocytosis and coordination of an appropriate immune response. Neutrophils and macrophages are controlled by a network of cytokines, which represent key mediators of cell to cell communication, such as from an infected cell to a neutrophil or macrophage or from a macrophage to other immune cells. Zebrafish represents a powerful experimental model for understanding development and disease, due to its similarities with mammalian immune systems, which has been used to better understand the immune system and its responses to pathogens.

Research Question: We have created a series of customised zebrafish lines where the cytokine signalling components have been modified to be either more or less activated using genome editing technologies. The aim of this project is to investigate the regulation of neutrophil and macrophage functions by cytokine signalling components using these zebrafish lines.

Methods/Analysis: This project will utilise cutting-edge techniques to directly image and study live zebrafish macrophages and neutrophils responding to immune challenges. This includes use of a customised range of zebrafish knockout and transgenic lines coupled with fluorescent activated cell sorting, fluorescent microscopy and molecular biology techniques such as PCR, qPCR, high resolution melt analysis, sanger sequencing, and in vitro transcription.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Zebrafish

URLs:



Contact Clifford
2160 Clifford Liongue Understanding the communication networks underpinning lymphoma and leukemia Cancer Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD White blood cells such as lymphocytes are important in the fight against viruses and other pathogens. However, a class of cancers known as lymphomas involves dysfunctional lymphocytes. Lymphomas represent the most common malignancy in children, with their incidence doubling in Australia over the past 20 years and is the 8th most common cancer-causing death in Australia. Lymphomas are particularly dangerous because lymphocytes are vital for normal immune function but are depleted at the expense of dysfunctional cancerous cells resulting in reduced immunity and susceptibility to a range of infectious agents. The normal function of cells is governed by complex communication networks. One such network is the cytokine signalling pathway that is crucial for the generation and function of blood and immune cells. The importance of the cytokine signalling highlighted as awry communications, caused by malfunctioning components of the pathway, often leads to diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia This project utilises zebrafish to investigate dysregulation of cytokine signalling components in normal immune development, function, and disease. Understanding the interactions and regulatory functions of cytokine signalling will reveal key insights to the cause of lymphomas and identify novel therapeutic targets. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2160

Name: Dr Clifford Liongue

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Clifford

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Alister Ward

Project Title: Understanding the communication networks underpinning lymphoma and leukemia

Research Area: Cancer

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: White blood cells such as lymphocytes are important in the fight against viruses and other pathogens. However, a class of cancers known as lymphomas involves dysfunctional lymphocytes. Lymphomas represent the most common malignancy in children, with their incidence doubling in Australia over the past 20 years and is the 8th most common cancer-causing death in Australia. Lymphomas are particularly dangerous because lymphocytes are vital for normal immune function but are depleted at the expense of dysfunctional cancerous cells resulting in reduced immunity and susceptibility to a range of infectious agents. The normal function of cells is governed by complex communication networks. One such network is the cytokine signalling pathway that is crucial for the generation and function of blood and immune cells. The importance of the cytokine signalling highlighted as awry communications, caused by malfunctioning components of the pathway, often leads to diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia

Research Question: This project utilises zebrafish to investigate dysregulation of cytokine signalling components in normal immune development, function, and disease. Understanding the interactions and regulatory functions of cytokine signalling will reveal key insights to the cause of lymphomas and identify novel therapeutic targets.

Methods/Analysis: This project will utilise cutting-edge techniques to directly image and study zebrafish lymphocytes. This includes use of a customised range of zebrafish knockout and transgenic lines coupled with fluorescent activated cell sorting, fluorescent microscopy and molecular biology techniques such as PCR, qPCR, high resolution melt analysis, sanger sequencing, and in vitro transcription.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Zebrafish

URLs:



Contact Clifford
2161 Eugene Athan Achieving the WHO viral hepatitis elimination targets in Barwon South West Public Health Barwon Health - Geelong PhD In order to achieve the World Health Organization viral hepatitis elimination targets by 2030, innovative models of care will be required. This study will implement and assess the feasibility of models of care focused on improving access to hepatitis C and hepatitis B care in the Barwon South West region of Victoria. There will be three main components: Hospital EC, antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care and community based hepatitis B care. Hospital EC: Will utilize the findings of the EC Audit project undertaken in 2022, which identified missed opportunities to test and link to care during hospital admissions. Antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care: Implementing a model of care to engage women with hepatitis C in care during pregnancy. Community based hepatitis B care: Implementing community based models of care based on the findings of the B-connected project conducted in BSW 2023 The overarching aim of this project is to improve access to viral hepatitis care in the Barwon South West Region of Victoria. The aim of Hospital EC will be to implement models to link patients to care whilst attending hospital. The aim of antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care will be to implement a model of care that keeps women engaged with hepatitis C care after pregnancy. The aim of community based hepatitis C care will be to expand access to hepatitis B care in the community. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2161

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Amanda Wade, Dr Christine Roder

Project Title: Achieving the WHO viral hepatitis elimination targets in Barwon South West

Research Area: Public Health

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: In order to achieve the World Health Organization viral hepatitis elimination targets by 2030, innovative models of care will be required. This study will implement and assess the feasibility of models of care focused on improving access to hepatitis C and hepatitis B care in the Barwon South West region of Victoria. There will be three main components: Hospital EC, antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care and community based hepatitis B care. Hospital EC: Will utilize the findings of the EC Audit project undertaken in 2022, which identified missed opportunities to test and link to care during hospital admissions. Antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care: Implementing a model of care to engage women with hepatitis C in care during pregnancy. Community based hepatitis B care: Implementing community based models of care based on the findings of the B-connected project conducted in BSW 2023

Research Question: The overarching aim of this project is to improve access to viral hepatitis care in the Barwon South West Region of Victoria. The aim of Hospital EC will be to implement models to link patients to care whilst attending hospital. The aim of antenatal hepatitis C linkage to care will be to implement a model of care that keeps women engaged with hepatitis C care after pregnancy. The aim of community based hepatitis C care will be to expand access to hepatitis B care in the community.

Methods/Analysis: Data will be collected from a variety of sources including hospital admissions data, pathology data and public health unit notifications data. Analysis includes describing testing results according to demographic variables, rates of complete diagnosis, patterns of cure will help inform services delivery and plan interventions required to achieve micro-elimination. Data science and biostatistics techniques will include data cleaning and management, descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2162 Eugene Athan Optimising antibiotic use in acute pharyngitis patients using point-of-care rapid antigen testing Clinical Practice Barwon Health - Geelong PhD Diagnostic uncertainty regarding the cause (e.g., group A streptococcus) of sore throat or pharyngitis infections leads to unnecessary use of antibiotics and development of antimicrobial resistance in primary care. Group A streptococci lead to 700000 worldwide deaths annually. Only around 20% of sore throat infections (ranging from 5% to 15% in adults and from 20% to 30% in children) are caused by group A streptococci. However, up to 70% of sore throat cases are treated with inappropriate antibiotics. The limited capacity of primary care GPs and pharmacists in detecting group A streptococci is a challenge for rational antibiotic use in pharyngitis patients. Point-of-care Rapid Antigen Detection testing (RADT) has been recognised as a potential stewardship strategy to optimise antimicrobial use in patients with pharyngitis. However, RADT-based screening and treatment services for pharyngitis management are potentially limited in general practice and community pharmacy in Australia. 1. What are the perception and attitudes of GPs and community pharmacists regarding RADT-guided pharyngitis management services? 2. Is point-of-care rapid antigen test effective, feasible and cost-effective to optimise antimicrobial use in patients with acute sore throat or pharyngitis infections? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2162

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Sajal Kumar

Project Title: Optimising antibiotic use in acute pharyngitis patients using point-of-care rapid antigen testing

Research Area: Clinical Practice

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Diagnostic uncertainty regarding the cause (e.g., group A streptococcus) of sore throat or pharyngitis infections leads to unnecessary use of antibiotics and development of antimicrobial resistance in primary care. Group A streptococci lead to 700000 worldwide deaths annually. Only around 20% of sore throat infections (ranging from 5% to 15% in adults and from 20% to 30% in children) are caused by group A streptococci. However, up to 70% of sore throat cases are treated with inappropriate antibiotics. The limited capacity of primary care GPs and pharmacists in detecting group A streptococci is a challenge for rational antibiotic use in pharyngitis patients. Point-of-care Rapid Antigen Detection testing (RADT) has been recognised as a potential stewardship strategy to optimise antimicrobial use in patients with pharyngitis. However, RADT-based screening and treatment services for pharyngitis management are potentially limited in general practice and community pharmacy in Australia.

Research Question: 1.What are the perception and attitudes of GPs and community pharmacists regarding RADT-guided pharyngitis management services? 2. Is point-of-care rapid antigen test effective, feasible and cost-effective to optimise antimicrobial use in patients with acute sore throat or pharyngitis infections?

Methods/Analysis: The student will conduct nationwide surveys and qualitative interviews of general practitioners and community pharmacists in Australia to understand their views and practice regarding RADT based pharyngitis management program. A mixed-method pilot implementation study will assess the effectiveness, feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the RADT program for antimicrobial stewardship in pharyngitis patients by using regression statistics and health economic analysis.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2163 Bryony McNeill Hydrogen sulfide in chronic kidney disease Metabolic Disease Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects around 11% of Australians, with diabetes being the most common cause of this condition. Clinical management of CKD typically centres around improving glycaemic control and antihypertensive therapy. However, these treatments are not curative and many people with CKD will require kidney replacement therapy (dialysis or transplant). A better understanding of the molecular processes which drive the development of CKD will be essential for identifying new targets for its prevention and effective treatment. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is abundantly produced by the kidneys where it regulates blood vessel function, and provides protection against oxidative stress and fibrosis. There is now considerable evidence that H2S production in the kidneys is reduced in CKD, and that inadequate H2S levels contribute to the pathophysiology of the condition. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the reduction in H2S production in the context of CKD are not well understood. The aim of this project is to investigate how H2S production is regulated in the kidneys, particularly in the context of CKD, and to identify mechanisms to increase H2S production. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2163

Name: Dr Bryony McNeill

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Bryony

Associate Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Kathryn Aston-Mourney, Dr Leni Rivera

Project Title: Hydrogen sulfide in chronic kidney disease

Research Area: Metabolic Disease

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects around 11% of Australians, with diabetes being the most common cause of this condition. Clinical management of CKD typically centres around improving glycaemic control and antihypertensive therapy. However, these treatments are not curative and many people with CKD will require kidney replacement therapy (dialysis or transplant). A better understanding of the molecular processes which drive the development of CKD will be essential for identifying new targets for its prevention and effective treatment. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is abundantly produced by the kidneys where it regulates blood vessel function, and provides protection against oxidative stress and fibrosis.

Research Question: There is now considerable evidence that H2S production in the kidneys is reduced in CKD, and that inadequate H2S levels contribute to the pathophysiology of the condition. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for the reduction in H2S production in the context of CKD are not well understood. The aim of this project is to investigate how H2S production is regulated in the kidneys, particularly in the context of CKD, and to identify mechanisms to increase H2S production.

Methods/Analysis: This is a laboratory-based project. The initial stages of the project will involve cell culture studies, with animal models used in the later stages of the project. Laboratory analyses will include enzyme studies, molecular biology, histology, and biochemical analyses. Statistical analyses will also be performed.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Mice

URLs:



Contact Bryony
2164 Eugene Athan Infective endocarditis characteristics and outcomes in Staph. aureus adaptive platform study Infection Barwon Health - Geelong PhD The SNAP trial is a randomised clinical platform trial investigating Staph aureus bacteremia (SAB). It aims to improve the day 90 mortality in SAB infections. It includes sites from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Israel, and the UK with potential for other regions. As of 18th March 2023, it has recruited 535 participants. Using my leadership within SNAP, specifically as head of the cardiac infection working group within the broader SNAP trial team, a SNAP sub-study will be conducted to identify the following aims: 1. Identify the factors that are associated with endocarditis and cardiac device infections in SAB. 2. Identify the factors that are associated with treatment failure in SAB complicated by endocarditis and cardiac device infection. 3. Identify the factors that are associated with 90-day mortality in SAB complicated by cardiac device infection. What are the characteristics of cardiac device infections and infective endocarditis in the global SNAP cohort? What are the outcomes of infective endocarditis or cardiac device infections in the global SNAP cohort? What is the association of surgery and outcomes? Full Project Information

Project ID: 2164

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Carly Botheras

Project Title: Infective endocarditis characteristics and outcomes in Staph. aureus adaptive platform study

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: The SNAP trial is a randomised clinical platform trial investigating Staph aureus bacteremia (SAB). It aims to improve the day 90 mortality in SAB infections. It includes sites from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, Israel, and the UK with potential for other regions. As of 18th March 2023, it has recruited 535 participants. Using my leadership within SNAP, specifically as head of the cardiac infection working group within the broader SNAP trial team, a SNAP sub-study will be conducted to identify the following aims: 1. Identify the factors that are associated with endocarditis and cardiac device infections in SAB. 2. Identify the factors that are associated with treatment failure in SAB complicated by endocarditis and cardiac device infection. 3. Identify the factors that are associated with 90-day mortality in SAB complicated by cardiac device infection.

Research Question: What are the characteristics of cardiac device infections and infective endocarditis in the global SNAP cohort? What are the outcomes of infective endocarditis or cardiac device infections in the global SNAP cohort? What is the association of surgery and outcomes?

Methods/Analysis: The SNAP trial collects data for everyone on in situ cardiac devices at baseline of platform entry, as well as biological data such as blood cultures collected on day 5 are still growing S. aureus, and C-reactive protein levels at entry into the platform. A sub-study of the SNAP trial that collects infective endocarditis and cardiac device infection specific data. Detailed multi-logistic regression analyses of key factors associated with IE/CDIE and outcome measures.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2165 Richard Williams 3D-printing microtissue: Self-organising building blocks to form cellular constructs Musculoskeletal Medicine Waurn Ponds Campus MPhil PhD Tailoring nanomedicines and therapeutics to the specific requirements of patients reduces pain and the burden of revision surgery. Traditionally, orthopaedic implants are manufactured using metals such as titanium, stainless steel, and cobalt-chromium alloys. However, debris from the metal induces fibrous tissue formation, while smaller particles are removed by macrophages and multinucleated giant cells, which can release cytokines, leading to inflammation and implant failure. To overcome these limitations, a long-term solution is required to promote direct contact between the bone and the implant surface. One key technology for the fabrication of bespoke implants and therapies is additive manufacturing or 3D-bioprinting technologies. This research project aims to investigate the ability to develop 3D-bioprinted hydrogel microtissues from cellular aggregates to promote osteogenesis. 1) Can we design a semi-synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) that will allow stem cells to differentiate into bone tissue? 2) How can the semi-synthetic ECM composition be varied for tuned cellular recognition and specific biological activity? 3) What is the ideal scaffold degradation profile to tissue maturation ratio? Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2165

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Aaqil Rifai, Professor David Nisbet

Project Title: 3D-printing microtissue: Self-organising building blocks to form cellular constructs

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Tailoring nanomedicines and therapeutics to the specific requirements of patients reduces pain and the burden of revision surgery. Traditionally, orthopaedic implants are manufactured using metals such as titanium, stainless steel, and cobalt-chromium alloys. However, debris from the metal induces fibrous tissue formation, while smaller particles are removed by macrophages and multinucleated giant cells, which can release cytokines, leading to inflammation and implant failure. To overcome these limitations, a long-term solution is required to promote direct contact between the bone and the implant surface. One key technology for the fabrication of bespoke implants and therapies is additive manufacturing or 3D-bioprinting technologies.

Research Question: This research project aims to investigate the ability to develop 3D-bioprinted hydrogel microtissues from cellular aggregates to promote osteogenesis. 1) Can we design a semi-synthetic extracellular matrix (ECM) that will allow stem cells to differentiate into bone tissue? 2) How can the semi-synthetic ECM composition be varied for tuned cellular recognition and specific biological activity? 3) What is the ideal scaffold degradation profile to tissue maturation ratio?

Methods/Analysis: The student will use extensive material chemistry, fabrication, and characterisation techniques. After the fabrication process, the biomaterial will undergo in-depth analyses in vitro. The student will use a combination of cell culture and molecular biology techniques to assess the biological outcome of the materials. The student will learn a range of interdisciplinary laboratory techniques.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Google Scholar



Contact Richard
2166 Eugene Athan The impact of Staphylococcus aureus colonisation on disease outcomes Infection Barwon Health - Geelong PhD Staphylococcus aureus known as Golden Staph lives as part of the skin microbiota. It is also a highly pathogenic bacteria that killed over 1 million people in 2019 alone. Golden staph is permanently on the skin of approximately 30% of the population and upwards of 80% transiently. Golden staph frequently uses it's presence on the skin to infect people and can include following influenza to cause a superimposed infection, complicate wounds and ulcers, cause infection following surgery, cause infections that seemingly don't have a cause and are also implicated in allergy. What is the impact of staphylococcus aureus colonisation on the outcome of different disease states? it is hypothesised that staphylococcus aureus colonisation increases the risk of infection in differing disease states. It is also hypothesised that staphylococcus aureus colonisation exacerbated conditions Full Project Information

Project ID: 2166

Name: Professor Eugene Athan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, Barwon Health, IMPACT

Contact Eugene

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Carly Botheras, Dr Darcie Cooper

Project Title: The impact of Staphylococcus aureus colonisation on disease outcomes

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Staphylococcus aureus known as Golden Staph lives as part of the skin microbiota. It is also a highly pathogenic bacteria that killed over 1 million people in 2019 alone. Golden staph is permanently on the skin of approximately 30% of the population and upwards of 80% transiently. Golden staph frequently uses it's presence on the skin to infect people and can include following influenza to cause a superimposed infection, complicate wounds and ulcers, cause infection following surgery, cause infections that seemingly don't have a cause and are also implicated in allergy.

Research Question: What is the impact of staphylococcus aureus colonisation on the outcome of different disease states? it is hypothesised that staphylococcus aureus colonisation increases the risk of infection in differing disease states. It is also hypothesised that staphylococcus aureus colonisation exacerbated conditions

Methods/Analysis: Consenting volunteers to have a nasal swab for staphylococcus aureus presence -Microbiological techniques to identify Staphylococcus aureus from nasal swabs -Molecular techniques to identify strains of Staphylococcus aureus -Statistical and Bioinformatic analyses to identify associations of disease -Survey and data collection makeup

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: Yes (exposure involved)

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Eugene
2167 Richard Williams Controlling the Spatiotemporal Response in Hydrogels for Organoid Development Musculoskeletal Medicine Waurn Ponds Campus PhD The development of responsive hydrogels offers exciting opportunities for tissue engineering. In this project, we aim to control the spatiotemporal response of progenitor and stem cells, leading to the phenotypic development of complex organoid models. In the context of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the endochondral ossification region, the manipulation of bone-specific epitopes for growth factors such as BMP2 and VEGF within hydrogels can guide the maturation of bone tissues. This approach holds immense potential for studying organogenesis, tissue development, and regenerative medicine. We have understood the response of bone marrow stromal cells and their ability to differentiate in response to motifs, including laminin and fibronectin. Here, we explore exogenous cues to aid the biophysical response. How can we engineer responsive hydrogels with specific epitopes and growth factors such as BMP2 and VEGF to achieve spatiotemporal control over bone tissue maturation in a complex organoid model? Full Project Information

Poject ID: 2167

Name: Associate Professor Richard Williams

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Richard

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Aaqil Rifai, Professor David Nisbet

Project Title: Controlling the Spatiotemporal Response in Hydrogels for Organoid Development

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: The development of responsive hydrogels offers exciting opportunities for tissue engineering. In this project, we aim to control the spatiotemporal response of progenitor and stem cells, leading to the phenotypic development of complex organoid models. In the context of the musculoskeletal system, particularly the endochondral ossification region, the manipulation of bone-specific epitopes for growth factors such as BMP2 and VEGF within hydrogels can guide the maturation of bone tissues. This approach holds immense potential for studying organogenesis, tissue development, and regenerative medicine.

Research Question: We have understood the response of bone marrow stromal cells and their ability to differentiate in response to motifs, including laminin and fibronectin. Here, we explore exogenous cues to aid the biophysical response. How can we engineer responsive hydrogels with specific epitopes and growth factors such as BMP2 and VEGF to achieve spatiotemporal control over bone tissue maturation in a complex organoid model?

Methods/Analysis: Chemical synthesis and bioconjugation will be employed to functionalise the hydrogels. Progenitor and stem cells will be cultured within the hydrogels, and their response to the spatiotemporal release of growth factors will be assessed. Analyses will include cell viability assays, immunostaining, gene expression analysis, imaging techniques and zebrafish models (if time permits). The student will perform hydrogel preparation, cell culture, data analysis, and scientific communication.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: Zebrafish

URLs: Google Scholar



Contact Richard
2168 Alison Yung Understanding outcomes of young people discharged from out-of-home care health using integrated population and health data Clinical Practice Barwon Health - Geelong PhD Out-of-home care (OHC) refers to residential placements such as foster care, group homes, or residential treatment centres that provide alternative living arrangements for children and adolescents who cannot live with their biological families. Positive outcomes of OHC include improved educational attainment, increased employment opportunities, better mental health, and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system. However, the transition from OHC to independent living can be challenging for many young people. This project seeks to understand factors that influence outcomes after young people are discharged from care. What are the outcomes of young people once discharged from out-of home care? What are the factors associated with good and poor outcomes? These issues will be examined using linked data sets including from forensic, health and welfare services Full Project Information

Project ID: 2168

Name: Professor Alison Yung

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Alison

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Ye Zhu, Dr Kate Filia, Dr Jana Menssink

Project Title: Understanding outcomes of young people discharged from out-of-home care health using integrated population and health data

Research Area: Clinical Practice

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Out-of-home care (OHC) refers to residential placements such as foster care, group homes, or residential treatment centres that provide alternative living arrangements for children and adolescents who cannot live with their biological families. Positive outcomes of OHC include improved educational attainment, increased employment opportunities, better mental health, and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system. However, the transition from OHC to independent living can be challenging for many young people. This project seeks to understand factors that influence outcomes after young people are discharged from care.

Research Question: What are the outcomes of young people once discharged from out-of home care? What are the factors associated with good and poor outcomes? These issues will be examined using linked data sets including from forensic, health and welfare services

Methods/Analysis: This PhD project is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership grant in collaboration with Deakin University, Orygen (Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne) the Victorian Department of Health, Ambulance Victoria and headspace National. The student will learn statistical manipulation of large linked data sets, including population level administrative data sets and machine learning techniques

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs:



Contact Alison
2169 Alyssa Barry Genomic epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Papua New Guinea Infection Barwon Health - Geelong MPhil PhD Tackling malaria in the Asia-Pacific region involves a number of key challenges related to increasingly strong variations in malaria transmission, the presence of a large reservoir of infected but asymptomatic individuals, and the development of drug resistance. The predominance of Plasmodium vivax infections also poses the challenge of relapsing malaria caused by P. vivax hypnozoites (dormant parasites). The Asia-Pacific International Centres of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) has been conducting a coordinated set of epidemiological studies in Papua New Guinea over almost two decades. This time-period spans a period of intensifying malaria control resulting in a significant decline in transmission until 2016, when malaria resurged due to a number of factors. An understanding of how malaria control efforts impact the parasite population, and identifying possible causes of resurgence is crucial to eliminating malaria. This project aims to measure evolution of P. vivax parasite populations during intensified malaria control efforts. Specifically the project aims to: Aim 1) Conduct genomic analysis of P. vivax isolates collected in two endemic areas of PNG from 2005-2020 Aim 2) Measure changes in parasite population structure during transmission decline and resurgence Aim 3) Identify genes under selective pressure that may contribute to parasite adaptation to changing transmission. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2169

Name: Professor Alyssa Barry

Research Institution(s): Deakin University - School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Alyssa

Associate Supervisor(s): Dr Zahra Razook, Dr Kirsty McCann

Project Title: Genomic epidemiology of Plasmodium vivax malaria in Papua New Guinea

Research Area: Infection

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: MPhil PhD

Project Background: Tackling malaria in the Asia-Pacific region involves a number of key challenges related to increasingly strong variations in malaria transmission, the presence of a large reservoir of infected but asymptomatic individuals, and the development of drug resistance. The predominance of Plasmodium vivax infections also poses the challenge of relapsing malaria caused by P. vivax hypnozoites (dormant parasites). The Asia-Pacific International Centres of Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) has been conducting a coordinated set of epidemiological studies in Papua New Guinea over almost two decades. This time-period spans a period of intensifying malaria control resulting in a significant decline in transmission until 2016, when malaria resurged due to a number of factors. An understanding of how malaria control efforts impact the parasite population, and identifying possible causes of resurgence is crucial to eliminating malaria.

Research Question: This project aims to measure evolution of P. vivax parasite populations during intensified malaria control efforts. Specifically the project aims to: Aim 1) Conduct genomic analysis of P. vivax isolates collected in two endemic areas of PNG from 2005-2020 Aim 2) Measure changes in parasite population structure during transmission decline and resurgence Aim 3) Identify genes under selective pressure that may contribute to parasite adaptation to changing transmission.

Methods/Analysis: The project uses custom Next Generation Sequencing assays and bioinformatic approaches for analysing human malaria samples including population genetics and statistical analyses. Working in the context of a large multidisciplinary team, the genomic data will be further combined with other epidemiological data on malaria risk and exposure to investigate spatio-temporal determinants of malaria, and to develop new approaches for improved surveillance.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: CIIDIR



Contact Alyssa
2170 Roey Elnathan Cellular nanoinjection: developing programmable nanoscale tools for cellular engineering Imaging Waurn Ponds Campus PhD Nanoinjection - a process of intracellular delivery using nanoneedles (NNs) - is a new physical delivery route that efficiently negotiates the plasma membrane (PM) of many cell types (including primary immune, neural, and stem cells). This process occurs with minimal perturbation, invasiveness and toxicity, and can do so with high efficiency and throughput at high spatial and temporal resolutions. Diverse, tuneable, nanoinjection platforms are now providing major advantages in the precise manipulation of increasingly complex cellular processes - such as immunomodulation, mechanotransduction, intracellular delivery, and sampling of cell states (nanobiopsy). Our own work has made a significant advance in using mechanical and electroactive nanoinjection to maximise intracellular delivery across many cell (including T cells) and cargo types (including gene-editing tools), while minimising cell toxicity. To probe if nanoinjection technology is capable to deliver extracellular vesicles, into a range of cells, for biomedical applications. In particular, the project will use 2 modalities of nanotube-mediated nanoinjection: 1. Mechanical nanoinjection - mediated by the application of centrifugal force - can significantly improve control and reliability of delivery by increasing membrane permeability. 2. Electroactive nanoinjection - mediated by coupling NTs with an electric field - is a new route for a Full Project Information

Project ID: 2170

Name: Dr Roey Elnathan

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine, IMPACT

Contact Roey

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Wei Duan, Dr Crystal Chen

Project Title: Cellular nanoinjection: developing programmable nanoscale tools for cellular engineering

Research Area: Imaging

Location: Waurn Ponds Campus

Project Type: PhD

Project Background: Nanoinjection - a process of intracellular delivery using nanoneedles (NNs) - is a new physical delivery route that efficiently negotiates the plasma membrane (PM) of many cell types (including primary immune, neural, and stem cells). This process occurs with minimal perturbation, invasiveness and toxicity, and can do so with high efficiency and throughput at high spatial and temporal resolutions. Diverse, tuneable, nanoinjection platforms are now providing major advantages in the precise manipulation of increasingly complex cellular processes - such as immunomodulation, mechanotransduction, intracellular delivery, and sampling of cell states (nanobiopsy). Our own work has made a significant advance in using mechanical and electroactive nanoinjection to maximise intracellular delivery across many cell (including T cells) and cargo types (including gene-editing tools), while minimising cell toxicity.

Research Question: To probe if nanoinjection technology is capable to deliver extracellular vesicles, into a range of cells, for biomedical applications. In particular, the project will use 2 modalities of nanotube-mediated nanoinjection: 1. Mechanical nanoinjection - mediated by the application of centrifugal force - can significantly improve control and reliability of delivery by increasing membrane permeability. 2. Electroactive nanoinjection - mediated by coupling NTs with an electric field - is a new route for a

Methods/Analysis: Nanofabrication of nanoscale tools: Optimisation of nanotube topography (inner diameter, height, density): To maximise high throughput, reproducible cell interfacing, and intracellular access, we will target a specific combination of variables that relate to nanotube geometry. Using confocal, electron microscopy, and flow cytometry we will characterise the efficacy required to obtain a functional cell-nanotube interface.

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: The Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication

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Video Presentation
2171 Stephen Gill Are outcomes following joint replacement surgery improving over time? Musculoskeletal Medicine Barwon Health - Geelong GCert Hons The prevalence of joint replacement surgery is increasing each year throughout the world. Over the next decade in Australia, prevalence is expected to increase 200-300%. Together with increasing demand for surgery, surgical techniques, prostheses (artificial joints), and post-surgical care are changing, which is intended to improve postoperative outcomes. However, whether postoperative outcomes such as pain, function and quality have improved with these changes has received little research attention. The current study will investigate if patient reported outcomes following joint replacement surgery have changed over time. It is hypothesised that outcomes will have improved secondary to improvements in surgery, prostheses and patient care. Full Project Information

Project ID: 2171

Name: Dr Stephen Gill

Research Institution(s): Deakin University School of Medicine

Contact Stephen

Associate Supervisor(s): Professor Richard Page

Project Title: Are outcomes following joint replacement surgery improving over time?

Research Area: Musculoskeletal Medicine

Location: Barwon Health - Geelong

Project Type: GCert Hons

Project Background: The prevalence of joint replacement surgery is increasing each year throughout the world. Over the next decade in Australia, prevalence is expected to increase 200-300%. Together with increasing demand for surgery, surgical techniques, prostheses (artificial joints), and post-surgical care are changing, which is intended to improve postoperative outcomes. However, whether postoperative outcomes such as pain, function and quality have improved with these changes has received little research attention.

Research Question: The current study will investigate if patient reported outcomes following joint replacement surgery have changed over time. It is hypothesised that outcomes will have improved secondary to improvements in surgery, prostheses and patient care.

Methods/Analysis: To complete the study, the student will work closely with clinicians at Barwon Health (surgeons, physiotherapists, nurses) and researchers from Deakin University. PROMS data will be extracted from the Barwon Joint Registry, which is one of the largest orthopaedic clinical quality registries in regional Australia. Data for several thousand patients from the last 20 years will be analysed to determine if outcomes have changed between predetermined time periods (e.g. 2005-10 compared with 2015-20).

Project Has Exposure To Blood And/Or Bodily Fluids: No exposure

Project Involves Animal Testing: None

URLs: Barwon Centre for Orthopaedic Research & Education



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